By Tech. Sgt. Catharine Schmidt, 109th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 07, 2013
SCOTIA, N.Y. -- Usually when airmen hear the word inspection, panic sets in. They know the next few months are going to be brutal gearing up for this inspection that comes once every few years. Drills are consumed with exercises, file plan build up, computer-based training and getting their sections up to speed. All they can think about is the day after the dreaded inspection, so they can once again relax until the next one.
Those days are gone. The 109th Airlift Wing has adapted the Air Force's new inspection process, beginning with standing up the newly formed Inspector General Office. Instead of spending months ramping up for the Wing inspection, the IG's goal under the new system is to have a continuous inspection process.
"Instead of having all this prep for an inspection, and then cycling down and going along and doing your job, and then ramping back up (for the next inspection), there should be a constant flow of compliance and readiness," said Chief Master Sgt. William Nolin, 109th AW Inspections Superintendent. "This is done through the IG. During a traditional inspection, (Air Mobility Command IG would) show up with 100 inspectors who would be all over the base. Now we set up an exercise plan and an inspection plan. We manage those for the wing commander so that we're reporting to him with our findings."
"Our IG office is growing from a complaints-resolution, fraud, waste and abuse investigation traditional guardsman role to a large team with full-time positions and an entire Wing Inspection Team," said Lt. Col. Matthew LeClair, 109th AW Inspector General.
"When we have the UEI (Unit Effectiveness Inspection), the (command IG) will look at our office instead of the individual sections," Nolin said. "Sections will now report on themselves, and then we will verify their findings."
One of the ways to maintain compliance is through MICT (Management Internal Control Toolset). MICT is a self-inspection each area is able to execute. Each area's Functional Area Manager is responsible for uploading the checklist that particular section will need. Air Mobility Command has visibility of this Web site and will be able to see real-time what is being reported. MICT, along with the entire inspection program, is done on a continuous basis.
For the Air National Guard, the inspection cycle runs every four to five years, which culminates in a capstone visit from the AMC IG. "MICT is 80 percent of the program," Nolin said.
The 109th AW is the first airlift wing in the Air National Guard that will be inspected under the new UEI in March 2014, LeClair said. He said the Wing will not be standing down in April, emphasizing that this is all a continuous process.
So what is the wing being inspected on? "The wing commander gets inspected on the four major graded areas. Managing resources, improving the unit, leading people and executing the mission," Nolin said.
"Whatever we observe falls into one of those four categories, sometimes more than one," LeClair said.
"Another critical element of the new system is the 'Every Airman a Sensor' idea," Nolin said. "The AMC IG goes to great lengths to get every Airman's input."
They do this through a confidential survey, which was recently sent out to all wing members. "When they come here for the capstone visit they'll invite airmen to IG sensing sessions," Nolin said.
Throughout the next few years, airmen "can expect CBRNE (chem gear has not gone away). They can expect public health emergencies, force protection, anti-terrorism exercises -- exercises to demonstrate the base's ability to protect its people and resources, and to also execute the mission," LeClair said.
"The new inspection process empowers the wing commander to manage the resources within his wing to where he sees best within the four major graded areas," Nolin said. "How we can best lead his people, how he can manage his resources, improve his unit and that all involves executing the mission. You can't execute the mission without the other three."
"I think this inspection system will benefit airmen by getting their full participation in a program that's relevant," LeClair said. "It should also give them the confidence that the wing leadership is utilizing its resources and their talents to the full potential."
The office refers to Air Force Instruction 90-201, the Air Force Inspection System, as well as the Program Action Directive 13-01 issued by the Air Force, when implementing plans for the wing.
The 109th IG office currently has two full-time members, LeClair and Nolin, and Senior Airman Brittany Rankin who handles all the administrative duties for the section, is on a temporary tour.
"She has been instrumental in getting us up and running," said LeClair.
Others on the team are: Lt. Col. Alan Ross, Director of Inspections; Maj. Nick Dean along with Maj. Chuck Longlois, as the Directors of Complaint Resolution; Maj. Ernest Lancto, Inspection Team Chief; Maj. Glen Hisert, Assessment Program Manager; Chief Master Sgt. Mark Schaible, Inspection Team Superintendent; and Senior Master Sgt. Greg Mihalko, Self-Assessment Program and MICT Manager. Along with these members, there is also a Wing Inspection Team, composed of subject matter experts throughout the different squadrons.
While the new IG office is much broader than it has been in the past, the complaint resolution area has not gone away. Just as in the past, airmen can still go to the IG with complaints if they've exhausted their chain of command.
"Eventually the goal is to have Chief Nolin be a full-time senior enlisted complaints resolution team member, so people don't have to wait for the Guard drill," LeClair said. "All members of the IG team can receive a complaint although not all can resolve a complaint. We can get it to the right people, and we're more than willing to facilitate."
The IG is located in Building 1, in the old Public Affairs office. LeClair and Nolin said they encourage airmen to stop by and say hello and are also there for any questions anyone may have about the new inspection system.