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Airmen can expect more short-notice reviews and a constant focus on readiness under the new Unit Effectiveness Inspection program scheduled to be in place throughout the Air Force by summer.
The program shifts the responsibility for oversight of inspections to wing commanders and lessens the reliance on outside inspectors visiting the base.
This means airmen will no longer have to cram in advance of an inspection team arriving; instead, they will constantly be under the watchful eye of their commanders.
Now, Inspector General teams will evaluate wings with “capstone” visits every two years, according to the Air Force.
Most commands have some experience with the new inspections, which began as a test program under U.S. Air Forces Europe in 2012. Air Mobility Command began the inspections last summer. The Air Force Inspection Agency also has executed the inspections on direct reporting units and field operating agencies since last summer.
Pacific Air Forces began its adoption this year, with the first capstone visit to Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, in March. To date, nearly every major command has executed at least one inspection, including Air Mobility Command, Air Force Space Command, Air Force Materiel Command, Pacific Air Forces, Air Force Reserve Command and Air Combat Command.
Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Education and Training Command and Air Force Global Strike Command are expected to start their inspections within the next two months. The Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency and Air Force Office of Special Investigations expect to begin inspections this summer.
“There was no directed sequencing of [major commands] executing the UEI,” Air Force spokeswoman Rose Richeson said. “As they became capable of executing the UEI, they did so within their command.”
Kunsan kicked off the Pacific Air Forces inspections because the 8th Fighter Wing was next in line for inspection under the previous system. Kunsan gets inspected every year because it is a remote location, PACAF spokeswoman Maj. Jillian Torango said.
“Military members, including their leadership, are on one-year remote assignments, so since the leadership changes out each year, they are inspected annually,” Torango said.
Kunsan earned overall effective and highly effective ratings in the inspection, the base announced. Under the system, the rankings, in order, are outstanding, highly effective, effective, marginally effective and ineffective. The inspection grades four major areas: managing resources, leading people, improving the unit and executing the mission. The grades are averaged to two results, one for the wing and another for how the wing uses its funding from higher headquarters.
The 51st Fighter Wing at Osan Air Base, South Korea, also began the new system in March— with no-notice, squadron-level inspections “to ensure constant readiness,” said Master Sgt. Daniel Blair, the inspections superintendent.
“No longer is there ‘inspection prep.’ The inspections are done on a continual basis by the wing [commander’s] team,” he said. “Commanders will inspect their units’ ability to execute the mission, manage resources, lead people and improve performance.”
The big challenge, he said, “was convincing the people/units not to prepare. There was no ramp-up, our focus was/is changing the culture to where we do not have to prepare for inspections; it should show in our daily mission readiness.”
The unit is inspected on local priorities, instead of criteria set out by the major command’s inspector general, Blair said. Osan earned an overall effective rating in the inspection, the base announced.
The wing commander’s inspectors will report to the inspector general at the major command. Part of the inspection is virtual, with commanders using a database called the “management internal control tool set” to keep track of compliance.
Additionally, airmen can have their say. They take a confidential survey evaluating wing leadership and how their leaders manage resources. They are able to grade leaders on how considerate they are of airmen’s time, the Air Force director of inspections, then-Lt. Col. Robert Hyde, said when USAFE began the program.
Additional results are in under the new system across the Air Force, with mostly positive results.
For example, the 96th Training Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., finished its Air Force Materiel Command-directed inspection from March 17 to March 21, with a rating of highly effective, the base announced.
The inspection results included 24 of 24 quality verification audits passed, 54 of 57 task evaluations passed, 59 strengths, 104 outstanding performers and 27 outstanding teams.■