I know it's an Air Force Auxiliary, but does that also mean it's part of the United States Air Force or government?

Here, they're a "public service organization"

And they also have a 501c3 here

Their Website

  • 1
    What do you mean "part of"? This isn't a legal concept. Is Amtrak a part of the US gov't?
    – user6726
    Dec 14, 2023 at 5:38
  • @user6726 part of in the most general sense legally. There must be a difference between something like the FBI and random nonprofit. But CAP isn't really a random nonprofit is it?
    – Blue Robin
    Dec 14, 2023 at 5:59
  • @user6726 with that new information, do you believe the question is fit here?
    – Blue Robin
    Dec 14, 2023 at 6:05
  • @user6726 since there are different ways an organization can be "part of" the US government, an answer to this question could describe the specific relationship of the CAP and the US government and discuss the whether the relationship can be described as "part of." With your example of Amtrak, there is a sense in which it is part of the US government and a sense in which it is not.
    – phoog
    Dec 14, 2023 at 11:14

1 Answer 1


From Wikipedia:

Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is a congressionally chartered, federally supported non-profit corporation that serves as the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force (USAF). CAP is a volunteer organization with an aviation-minded membership that includes members from all backgrounds. The program is established as an organization by Title 10 of the United States Code and its purposes defined by Title 36.

Thus, as user6276 implies in a comment, the answer to the literal question depends on the definition of "part of."

The relevant section of title 10 is 9491:

(a) Status.—
(1) The Civil Air Patrol is a nonprofit corporation that is federally chartered under section 40301 of title 36.
(2) Except as provided in section 9492(b)(2) of this title, the Civil Air Patrol is not an instrumentality of the Federal Government for any purpose.
(b) Purposes.—
The purposes of the Civil Air Patrol are set forth in section 40302 of title 36.

Thus, as far as congress is concerned, the CAP is part of the US government for the purposes provided in 10 USC 9492(b)(2), and only for those purposes. It says:

(2) The Civil Air Patrol shall be deemed to be an instrumentality of the United States with respect to any act or omission of the Civil Air Patrol, including any member of the Civil Air Patrol, in carrying out a mission assigned by the Secretary of the Air Force.

As far as I can see, the purpose of this section is to provide CAP members with legal status -- and therefore legal protections -- similar to those of a government agent when they are acting as such. This suggests that for most purposes, while the CAP is established by and closely affiliated with the federal government, it isn't "part of" the government in a legal sense.

At the same time, speaking broadly and non-technically, one could consider that organizations such as the CAP, established by the government within its sphere of activity, are indeed a mechanism by which the government carries out those activities, so in that sense the CAP is, if only loosely, part of the federal government.

  • This particular arrangement allows the CAP volunteers to use government-supplied equipment, and have immunity from personal liability when conducting Air Force approved operations (such as the many search and rescue operations they do every year).
    – Jon Custer
    Dec 14, 2023 at 14:01
  • Then that begs the question, what does instrumentality mean?
    – Blue Robin
    Dec 15, 2023 at 2:14
  • 1
    @BlueRobin Informally, “federal instrumentality” means something that isn’t part of the traditional federal structure but should still be treated as an arm of the government.
    – cpast
    Dec 15, 2023 at 15:30

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