Machiavellian Toxicity in the Civil Air Patrol


By Ted | AuxBeacon News Contributor

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I am in my 60th year as an active member of CAP, so I think I can comment with some credibility. You would have to live under a rock not realize that CAP is no better or worse than most other volunteer organizations. We have had some good leaders and some really bad ones, but somehow CAP has survived. So I would say on balance it works out.

On the whole, you are absolutely correct as to the quality of the players in CAP and other volunteer organizations. The main difference is the power structure paradigm. Paul Albano may not have been the first to recognize the potential, but he was the first to apply Machiavellian principal to it. Paul gave a lecture at the 1994 Florida Wing conference that virtually laid out a plan for seizing control of the wing–actually, any wing. Eliminate your competition by using 2B or termination. Loyalty to the leaders became the criteria, not productivity and efficiency. Not to say that some of the child molesters are not very efficient, I just prefer not to work with child molesters since I have a female daughter.

You mostly never hear from the active members who are out there training cadets and accomplishing the Search and Rescue programs using their personal time and resources to get it done.

You’re hearing from me, and my very last act in CAP was to teach two days of classes in Field Craft and radio direction finding at an encampment at Homestead Air Reserve Base. I did it on a special invitation from the encampment commander to my Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla because the Wing Commander thought that my opinion of his integrity precluded my continued membership in CAP, and the classes were already scheduled. A classic case of I don’t care how much you contribute to the program, you are a threat to my ambition, so you’re gone. I was told by the IG that he black-flagged Cal Morton, the former California Wing Vice Commander, at the same time.

If I had to zero in on one program fault it is the lack of continuity of command, so most every time there is a change of command many of the same mistakes are repeated. I have no solution to this dilemma to offer, so we need to learn to live with it, I guess.

You may be right that there is no solution. The problem develops from the personal ambition paradigm, and a constant tension between opposing factions. There have been criminal destruction of records in the past, and when Tony Pineda took over he hardly got anything in “Pass down the log” materials. That may have had something to do with the way his predecessor was dealt with by the Region Commander. My motto is to never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity, but sometimes it gets a little difficult.

Anyone who knows me, even the naysayers know I am not afraid to speak my mind, and over the years have had some nasty run ins with leaderships I disagreed with. But they are gone and I have survived.

So, let me comment on the new Florida Wing Commander. I have known Dan Levitch since he was a cadet and he probably would have been the last person I thought would ever become a Wing Commander. I can vouch for the fact he went head to head with quite a few “commanders” coming up in CAP. I sincerely doubt he marches to anybody’s drummer. I think he has enough experience to know he needs to listen to the membership. An I am sure that their will be staff changes. He fits the motto I use for a tag line. Enough said.

Howard Gelbman, Lt Col, CAP
“Been There Done That”

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