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Civil Air Patrol aids national crisis preparedness as part of Ardent Sentry exercise

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Civil Air Patrol members on both coasts are participating in Ardent Sentry 08, a homeland security and disaster response exercise that tests the readiness of local, state and national organizations responding to national-level emergencies, including both natural disasters and terrorism incidents. 

          The East Coast exercise is involving CAP resources in the Middle East region. Responsibilities for CAP members include airborne reconnaissance and communications tasks, as well as other high-frequency communications support for Air Force North resources. 

          The West Coast exercise is involving Pacific Region with a primary focus on Washington and Oregon Wings. Responsibilities are the same airborne and communications tasks as the East Coast exercise. 

          According to the United States Northern Command Web site, exercise scenarios include multiple terrorist attacks in the state of Washington, an accidental chemical agent release in Oregon and a Category 4 hurricane impacting the mid-Atlantic Coast. 

          CAP regularly takes part in homeland security and disaster response exercises across the nation, assisting local, state and national organizations with crisis and terrorism preparedness. Most recently, CAP participated in Operation Falcon Virgo, an intercept mission conducted over the nation's capital on April 29 that tested the Air Force's threat-intercept procedures. 

          Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with more than 56,000 members nationwide. CAP performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and was credited by the AFRCC with saving 103 lives in fiscal year 2007. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counter-drug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to the nearly 22,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for more than 66 years.