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NEWS | Jan. 21, 2016

‘Embrace the red’: Airmen evaluate unit effectiveness

By Staff Sgt. Jared Trimarchi Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Every Airman is a sensor and, ultimately, an inspector of how well their unit and the Air Force are performing.

The 628th Air Base Wing staff agencies recently completed a unit vertical inspection, a self-assesment of compliance to Air Force instruction and regulations. These inspections are conducted by the Wing Inspection Team. Members of the WIT are subject matter experts, empowered by the wing commander, assisting  the inspector general as an additional duty.

"Our records management program was just inspected by a WIT member and I was really impressed with the knowledge I gained from the inspection," said Staff Sgt. Torri Bagsby, 628th Air Base Wing chaplain assistant.

One of the biggest take-aways from the self-inspection for Bagsby pertained to Air Force Instructions on visual aids used around the base.

"Visual aids such as the posters you see on bulletin boards with a person's photo for recognition are official Air Force forms and need to be filed under records management," she added. "I didn't know you couldn't just make one from scratch and post it around base."
The inspection included WIT members outside of wing staff agencies to prevent bias when assessing unit compliance with Air Force Instructions.

Technical Sgt. Kelly Anderson, 628th Communications Squadron NCOIC of quality assurance, assessed the Information Technology Asset Management program for the wing staff agencies.

"Self-assessments are great because we get to look at how other units manage their programs and I can bring that knowledge back to my organization as a benchmark," Anderson said. "There is no computer in the world that can analyze information as well as an Airman and we have hundreds of them acting as sensors in each unit, pin-pointing information ensuring compliance with regulations."

The purpose of the inspection system is to ensure units are running efficiently and are mission ready.

"Each unit commander is responsible for the inspection process within their respective unit but it's the job of the Airmen to inform their chains of command of any updates or discrepancies," said Lt. Col. Roosevelt Loveless, Joint Base Charleston inspector general. "The goal is to look at the economy, efficiency and discipline of each unit and define the strengths and weaknesses."

Although Bagsby feels she gained knowledge from the inspection, she also shared information with her command about non-compliance. 

"We have some work to do and had some deficiencies but the inspection helped us identify the problems and come up with solutions to resolve them," Bagsby added.

According to Loveless, the most important lesson learned from any inspection is to remember no unit is perfect.

"Embrace the red," Loveless said. "If you find something is broken or non-compliant, don't just hide it and sweep it under the rug. Embrace the fact that you are where you are and report up the chain of command. If you don't tell anyone, we can't help you solve the situation."

Col. Robert Lyman, Joint Base Charleston commander, seconded this guidance.

"Our inspection program is not just about compliance.  It is also about our readiness," he said. 

"If workcenters can capture and document the weakest areas of their programs, 'embracing the red,' then wing leaders have a much clearer picture of what needs the most attention for us to do our mission effectively.  That allows commanders to allocate scarce resources and accept operational risk.  It also empowers commanders to advocate for resources, training or changes in policy that may be needed for us to bolster our capabilities.  None of that happens effectively without workcenters aggressively documenting through our self inspections.  We need your help and continued engagement," Lyman said.

In April, Air Mobility Command IG will conduct a capstone visit which is a final inspection of the current Unit Effectiveness Inspection cycle. The base will be assessed on four major graded areas:  managing resources, improving the unit, leading people and executing the mission.

There is no cramming for a capstone and there is no more inspection preparation, Loveless said. The UEI is an ongoing process and these inspections help ensure units are doing what they are supposed to do.

"If you are mission ready, you are inspection ready," Loveless said. "After the capstone the inspection isn't over, the next UEI cycle begins. The inspection never stops."