JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Civil Air Patrol's Missouri Wing recently opened a new squadron in Warrensburg, the newest of 38 squadrons across the state.

In recent years, the Civil Air Patrol has had a critical role in state emergency duty missions, said Maj. Gen. Steve Danner, the Adjutant General.

"The Missouri National Guard has worked closely with the Civil Air Patrol during state emergencies such as the tornados and floods in 2011," said Danner. "They are a vital asset in support of emergency response efforts."

The patrol has approximately 1,200 members across the state, 10 light aircraft and 17 multi-purpose vehicles. These assets are available to federal, state and county governments, emergency responders and law enforcement agencies to perform search and rescue, homeland security, disaster relief, humanitarian assistance and counter-drug missions, said Col. John O'Neill, the commander of the Civil Air Patrol in Missouri.

"Our all-volunteer force of responders keeps costs down during state emergency missions," O'Neill said. "It costs approximately $125 per hour to fly a civilian plane compared to approximately $600 - $1,000 per hour to fly a military aircraft."

The patrol is an economic way to get images of the disaster area quickly and easily during state emergencies, said Danner.

"Their volunteer pilots can capture photos and videos to broadcast to civil authorities to assess damage and give situational awareness to those who can immediately respond," said Danner. "Because the patrol is actively engaged, they have had an easier time securing funding for equipment like updated avionics."

When an emergency happens, the patrol uses a Geospatial Information Interoperability Exploitation-Portable platform, better known as the GIIEP system, to give incident commanders in emergency situations real time images, said O'Neill.

"As technology continues to evolve with faster, better ways of communicating, we are reviewing the latest technology to ensure we can support the Guard's mission during state emergency," said O'Neill.

Continuing to increase the number of volunteers in the Civil Air Patrol is important, said O'Neill.

"In fact, retired Air Force officer Lt. Col. Tony Monetti was instrumental in organizing the new squadron in Warrensburg," said O'Neill. "With his military experience in aviation, combined with his civilian role as the assistant dean of aviation at the University of Central Missouri, he was in a unique position to organize others who are interested in aviation in both the civilian and military sectors."

The Civil Air Patrol is also known for its cadet programs, which use aviation as a cornerstone to provide aerospace education, leadership training and physical fitness to young people from 12 - 18 years old.

"The Missouri National Guard has recruited many cadets to the Air Guard through the years," said Danner. "Because of their excellent leadership training, those cadets who earn cadet officer status may enter the Air Force as an airman first class, rather than an airman basic, upon graduation from basic training. We look forward to continuing to work closely with our partners at the Missouri Wing of the Civil Air Patrol," said Danner.

(courtesy of Missouri National Guard)