JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. —
A team of 170 combined higher headquarters inspectors will visit Joint Base Charleston for 10 days in mid-May to evaluate the performance of the 628th Air Base Wing, the 437th Airlift Wing and the 315th Airlift Wing. As part of this Unit Effectiveness Inspection Capstone event, they will focus on the four Major Graded Areas: 1) Managing Resources, 2) Leading People, 3) Improving the Unit and 4) Executing the Mission.
So what special efforts should Airmen make to prepare for this critically important inspection?
“None,” said Lt Col Michael Campbell, 628th ABW Inspector General. “This is part an ongoing process and it should be ‘business as usual.’ That’s the benefit of a two-year UEI – to be an ongoing process of improving wing effectiveness, not just a ramped-up preparation for a single visit which won’t show our true day-to-day operations. Simply keep doing your job. We’re ready.”
Under this relatively new inspection process, which began in 2013, the U.S. Air Force stepped away from the “snapshot” view of unit effectiveness that comes with a single inspection and instead focused on an ongoing process that would be more of a “photo album” view of how well a wing performs. This newer Air Force Inspection System is meant to - as it says in AFI 90-201 - foster a culture of critical self-assessment, continuous improvement and to reduce the reliance on external inspection agencies.
Under this system – through a mixture of exercises, self-assessments and internal inspections – wing members are responsible for assessing their own deficiencies in their units, reporting them to the IG and then creating a plan to correct those deficiencies. This 24 to 30 month process concludes with this capstone inspection event, where installations are graded on a four-tier scale: highly effective, effective, marginally effective and ineffective.
The last capstone visit was in April of 2016, when the current UEI cycle then began. This cycle will end with a visit of 120 inspectors who will be on base from May 12 to 21, 2018, visiting the active duty units of the 628th ABW and the 437th AW. Likewise, 50 inspectors will be on hand from May 17 to 22, 2018, visiting the Reserve units of the 315th AW.
“If approached by a member of the IG team, be courteous, honest and enthusiastic,” said Clay Coleman, 628th ABW director of inspections. “That’s all that should be required; this inspection began immediately after the April 2016 Capstone ended.”
The intention of the UEI is to make sure that compliance is an 'every day' mindset. It’s not just a wing commander’s program, it’s also a unit commander’s program and one where every single Airman plays a part. Everyone participates and everyone is responsible. Each Wing Commander Inspection Program and unit Self-Assessment Program focuses on internal inspections to identify strengths and deficiencies long before a formal inspection. Through Wing Inspection Team members, subject matter experts from each unit work with inspection staff to monitor compliance.
Base-wide inspections such as those to be conducted starting May 12 evaluate the efficiency, readiness, discipline and resource management of units to ensure the focus is on mission readiness, as well as building a culture of disciplined compliance in how work is performed.
“We’re always trying to better ourselves through an ongoing process of self-awareness and improvement,” said Lt. Col. Tamara Scholl, 315th AW director of inspections. “It’s a way to show leadership where improvement is needed and to help Airmen understand their roles in our overall mission. By doing this continuously, we make ourselves always ready, regardless of when the capstone inspection takes place.”
The 170 inspectors will speak with Airmen from various units across the base, asking them about their training plans, their file plans, their checklists and their ability to accomplish their given mission. Documents may be reviewed, reports may be validated and equipment may be inventoried.
“The only real difference in this capstone inspection over the one is 2016 is that it will be the first where the active duty wings have two separate Inspector General offices,” said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Ferneding, 437th AW IG superintendent. “Other than that, this is something we’ve continuously, closely monitored for the last two years. We are definitely ready for this inspection.”
Reaffirming the ongoing nature of the UEI and how no preparation should be required, Coleman added, “If you’re mission-ready, you’re inspection-ready.”