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Mission Management & Support Guidelines

CAPR 60-3, paragraph 1-14 says: "Managing the Mission. ICs are expected to support many types of missions utilizing a variety of resources. This requires significant training and experience. CAP ICs not only represent CAP, but also take on a variety of responsibilities for customer agencies and organizations. In general, CAP ICs are expected to make prudent decisions to safely execute mission assignments with available resources, to properly document objectives and work completed, to request additional support when necessary, and guide mission operations from start to finish.  Detailed guidelines for how CAP ICs are expected to manage and support missions can be found on the CAP/DOS website."  The following outlines additional management and support guidelines as required by the regulation:

  • The IC must be accessible, and able to truly supervise and manage mission activities, preferably free of distractions other than the incident itself.  The active IC for a mission cannot participate on mission sorties in the air or on the ground while also serving as the IC other than on transportation or relocation sorties to get to and from the Incident Command Post or another appropriate operating location.  ICs should operate from locations where they can be reached by subordinates to make decisions in a timely manner, and communications resources are available to do so effectively via phone, internet, or radio when necessary.
  • The IC will need to evaluate the needs for varied facilities. Most missions will be released remotely and personnel will operate out of their home bases. Mission bases and other incident facilities may use established or temporary facilities, but ICs are not authorized to contract for space or services.
  • The importance of comprehensive briefings to all personnel cannot be overemphasized.  The CAPF 104 will be used to brief aircrews, and the CAPF 109 will be used to brief ground, urban direction finding, and community emergency response teams.  Though signatures are not required, who briefed the crews must be noted on the forms.
  • Debriefing air and ground crews should be accomplished as soon as possible upon sortie completion. Results of each sortie are determined and immediately provided to the air operations and ground branch directors and planning section.  Debriefings will be documented on the CAPF 104 for aircrews and the CAPF 109 for ground, urban direction finding, and community emergency response teams. Though signatures are not required, who debriefed the crews must be noted on the forms.
  • All leads or objectives should be consolidated, posted on a situation map, and carefully investigated.
  • Evaluation of information requires intelligence, judgment, and experience in search operations. Information should be thoroughly studied and sorted according to its relative importance. Small pieces of information often fit together to form a more complete picture. The mission situation should be re-evaluated with each new bit of information. Assessment of gathered information is a never-ending cycle. It is an important function of the planning section.
  • Lay out the mission and plot it on a situation map (sectional aeronautical chart, topographical map, or other appropriate map of sufficient scale to show mission details).  Situation maps can be electronic in nature, not just paper, and can be posted online, but access needs to be controlled closely, and backup procedures need to be in place should electronic means be degraded or eliminated.
  • Keep the following information current and posted (online is acceptable, but access should be limited not open for anyone to view) where it may be viewed by all with a need to know:
    • Critical briefing items. The incident action plan (ICS Forms 202-206 with attachments for larger missions, ICS Form 201 for less resource intensive missions) can facilitate this. See paragraph 1-13l below.
    • Hazards in the search area (terrain, weather, towers, etc.).
    • Weather (current and forecast) over the search area.
    • Base facilities and hazards (construction, congested areas, facilities available, communications, refueling, mission base telephone number, etc.).
    • Airfields in the search area (location, type, facilities available, communications, refueling, etc.).
    • Base parking and taxi plan (if applicable).
    • Communications procedures (frequency designators, call signs, etc.).
    • Mission progress and status.
    • Status of restricted areas.

Status boards can also be electronic in nature, not just paper, and can be posted online, but access needs to be controlled closely to status boards as well, and backup procedures need to be in place should electronic means be degraded or eliminated.

  • Monitor the activities of any non-CAP resources, particularly aircraft operating in the area. CAP does not restrict operations of non-CAP personnel; however, the IC should ensure they are aware of CAP operations and request they remain clear of these areas, and can request restrictions from the appropriate authorities. Conflicts should be avoided. When non-CAP volunteers insist on participating in operations, the IC should endeavor to cooperate with them to ensure the safety of operations. If it appears safety will be jeopardized, the IC may wish to withdraw forces from the mission until these issues are resolved.
  • Relatives and friends of a search target may visit the base of operations and should be treated with care. While they should be discouraged from visiting the base, they should be kept advised of the operation, its progress and results. Family members should be discouraged from actively participating in operations or offering rewards. Family members are not normally flown in CAP aircraft.
    • The chaplain staff officer, commonly called the mission chaplain and usually the highest-ranking chaplain involved in the mission, can often assist with this.   Not all chaplains or clergy are mission chaplains though. Mission chaplains are specially trained to minister to both spiritual and emotional needs of all individuals, families, and mission staff alike. The mission chaplain can also arrange for religious services or observances. When serious injury or loss of life has occurred, the mission chaplain may provide pastoral care to the mission staff, victims, survivors, and their families, and can often assist in arranging for appropriately trained critical incident stress management support.
    • If a mission chaplain is not available, then the IC should designate a staff member to function as liaison to relatives and families when necessary.
  • Keep the controlling agency and partner agencies updated on the mission.
    • Periodic updates with controlling agencies approximately every 4 hours are suggested, with a summary report of the day's activities submitted at the end of the day or at the close or suspension of the mission. This is normally accomplished by completing a CAPF 122 or other Situation Report (SITREP).
    • Operations may require the cooperation and assistance of many agencies with various missions and widely dispersed facilities. CAP must cooperate and coordinate closely with both primary and secondary agencies, whether military, civilian, or foreign. The purpose of liaison and coordination is to pre-plan mutual assistance and eliminate duplication and confusion through joint operating procedures and agreements.
      • All CAP commanders and operations personnel should be thoroughly familiar with the responsibilities and capabilities of the primary and secondary agencies within their area of operation. CAP units at all levels should strive to participate in or host combined training exercises with these agencies. Direct liaison and coordination with these forces on operations matters is essential, though CAP personnel need to be aware that this does not supersede CAP-USAF’s responsibility to be the functional interface between federal agencies and CAP. CAP-USAF cannot be excluded from federal missions, but rather should be seen as facilitators for mission success.
      • Area operational plans amongst partner agencies outlining procedures and responsibilities of each organization should be established if possible. If broad area operational plans are impractical, agreements and joint operating procedures with individual agencies should be formulated on a case by case basis. By identifying resources prior to an incident, qualifications and methods of employment and use, problems will not have to be solved during a mission. The development of these local plans and agreements is the responsibility of CAP wings and regions, and must be coordinated through the CAP-USAF liaison region, or their designees, and approved by NHQ CAP/DO to be sure they do not conflict with other policies or agreements.
  • Keep the public informed via periodic press releases approved by the IC and responsible approval authorities as appropriate. Proper utilization of the press can generate many leads, reduce the search area, and provide a positive public image of CAP as a whole.
  • On missions where CAP is the lead agency, a written incident action plan will be published. The purpose of the plan is to provide direction for future actions. Incident Action Plans must include the measurable tactical operations objectives to be achieved.  The incident action plan must be made known to all incident supervisory personnel. This can be done through briefings, by distributing a written plan prior to the start of the operational period, or by both methods. For missions of short duration the ICS Form 201 may be used as the written incident action plan for the missions. Missions of longer duration, anything over one operational period will require the use of a formal incident action plan utilizing ICS Forms 202 through 206 with appropriate attachments. Essential elements in any incident action plan are:
    • Statement of Objectives - Appropriate to the overall incident.
    • Organization - Describes what parts of the ICS organization will be in place for each operational period.
    • Assignments to Accomplish the Objectives - These are normally prepared for each division or group and include the strategy, tactics, and resources to be used.
    • Supporting Materials - Examples can include a map of the incident, communications plan, medical plan, traffic plan, etc.
  • Incident Action Plans are always prepared around a time frame called an operational period. Operational periods can be of various lengths, but shall not be longer than 24 hours unless the lead agency dictates otherwise. Twelve-hour operational periods are common on many large incidents. It is not unusual, however, to have much shorter operational periods covering, for example, 2 or 4 hour time periods. The length of an operational period will be based on the needs of the incident, and these can change over the course of the incident. The planning for an operational period must be done far enough in advance to ensure that requested resources are available when the operational period begins.       
  • Maintain an effective span of control of your resources and personnel. Span of control means how many organizational elements another person may directly manage. Maintaining adequate span of control throughout the ICS organization is very important. Effective span of control may vary from 3-to-7, and a ratio of 1-to-5 reporting elements is recommended. If the number of reporting elements falls outside of those ranges, expansion or consolidation of the organization may be necessary. There will be exceptions. For example, in some applications specially trained crews may utilize a larger span of control.
  • All missions and sorties must be properly approved and documented in the Web Mission Information Reporting System (WMIRS). For most missions this is required prior to sortie release, but allowances can be made for extreme circumstances. Instructions and directives for the use of WMIRS are available on the WMIRS login page at: or via links in e-services.
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