Civil Air Patrol

National Commander-select Col. Mark E. Smith, Has Ties to New Mexico Wing

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On June 19, 2017, Civil Air Patrol’s Board of Governors announced that Southwest Region Commander Col. Mark E. Smith has been selected as CAP’s next CEO and National Commander. Smith will assume command at the organization’s National Conference, Aug. 31-Sept. 2, in San Antonio, Texas.

Col. (now Maj. Gen.-select) Smith will serve a three-year term as National Commander, assuming command from Maj. Gen. Joe Vazquez, the current national commander, whose term expires this year.

Smith’s appointment as the new leader of CAP’s 57,000 members nationwide is especially significant for members of New Mexico Wing, many of whom believe that he is eminently qualified to lead Civil Air Patrol at the national level.

He was a founding member of Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron, and commanded the squadron from January 2006 to March 2008. In June 2011, he assumed command of New Mexico Wing.

His vision statement for the Wing was, “New Mexico Wing – Best in the Southwest.” His vision carried over to Southwest Region, when he assumed command of the Region in June 2015.

Under his watch, New Mexico Wing’s Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron achieved Squadron of Distinction for 2013, ranking as the best squadron in the nation among 1,500 units nationwide.

New Mexico Wing Commander Col. Mike Lee, who succeeded Smith as wing commander, said of Smith’s appointment, “I have had the

privilege of working with Mark Smith since 2011. His integrity, excellence and work ethic have inspired me to be a better servant to my community.” Lee added, “I know that his leadership will lead the way to enhance the capabilities of CAP into the future.”


A 1974 graduate of the United State Air Force Academy, Smith has spent more than 43 years in service to his community, state and nation. He currently heads up CAP’s Leadership Development Working Group, a national-level team that has developed products, tools and courses to better equip CAP’s leaders at all levels for success. The group recently released a highly acclaimed Unit Commander’s Course.


Outgoing National Commander Vazquez said of his successor, “Col. Smith represents the best of the executive volunteer leaders in Civil Air Patrol today.” He added, “His leadership of Southwest Region, as well as work on a new generation of squadron and wing commander training, greatly benefits all CAP members. He is a great choice to succeed me, and I look forward to working with him to achieve a smooth transition.”


When Smith found out he was selected, he said, “I am excited to be given the opportunity to serve as Civil Air Patrol’s next CEO and National Commander. I look forward to partnering with our phenomenal volunteers and staff to take our organization to even greater levels of excellence in service to community, state and nation.”


Col Smith Official Portrait

Above: Col. (now Maj. Gen.-select) Mark E. Smith, the next National Commander of Civil Air Patrol (Photo: CAP National Headquarters)

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