How to be a Successful #CivilAirPatrol Commander

How to be a Successful #CivilAirPatrol Commander

How to be a Successful Civil Air Patrol Commander
Col Bost and Col Skrabut picking up an award at the National Conference.

So far I’ve had a very rewarding life. Some of my most rewarding experiences have been when I have served as  a Civil Air Patrol commander. Colonel Bob Bost, the Rocky Mountain Region Commander, and I were discussing how lucky we were. We thought everyone should have an opportunity to serve as a unit commander. We also discussed some of the challenges that come with this position. As a result of that conversation, we decided to share what we have learned. We have also invited Colonel Ed Phelka, the Great Lakes Region Commander, to also share his experiences and insights.

If you are a CAP commander or are interested in becoming one, then this series of posts may be for you.  Col Bost, Col Phelka, and I have ten commands among the three of us not counting four cadet commander positions. Col Bost has been the Utah Wing Commander and currently sits as the Rocky Mountain Region Commander. Col Phelka has served as a squadron and group commander before taking over as the Colorado Wing Commander. He now serves as the Great Lakes Region Commander.  I have been a squadron commander on three separate occasions and the Wing Commander for Wyoming. In total, we have about 30 years of command experience. We can talk about the challenges and rewards at many levels of the organization. Col Bost and Col Phelka serve on the CSAG and therefore, bring insights from that level of the organization; insights to the process that most Civil Air Patrol members never get to experience.

The gang at the 2008 National Board
The gang at the 2008 National Board. Left to right: Stan Skrabut, Ed Phelka, and Bob Bost.

Why are we writing these blog posts and subsequently a book? Well, basically, we have seen a lot and we wish to share the lessons we have learned. Between the three of us, we have had varying degrees of success that we want to share. We have also made mistakes that we don’t want others to repeat.

So over the course of a number of blog posts,  we are going to share what we’ve learned. We are going to cover a number of topics to include this list below:

  • Why do you want to be a commander?
  • What you need to do in the first 90 days as commander
  • Planning and goal setting
  • Communicating with your staff and members
  • Leveraging social media
  • Recognizing your members
  • What is your legacy?
  • Leading vs managing
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Preparing for inspections
  • Record keeping
  • Getting help
  • Training
  • Acting as a professional

As you can see this is a pretty extensive list but not totally inclusive. If you are interested in what we have to share please keep an eye on this category. Down the road keep an eye out for a book that we want to release.

As I noted earlier, being a unit commander, a wing commander, and region commander has been some of the most rewarding experiences that we have ever had. Throughout our tenure, we have had challenges, ups, and downs; however, we have always had a feeling that we are doing something very important and meaningful. We want you to experience what we have experienced, but with fewer challenges.

If you have thoughts on anything that we are writing, please share them. We would like to hear other people’s perspective on this topic.