The inspection doesn't stop here

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Casey Tidgewell
  • 49th Operation Support Squadron

Fighting 49ers:

We've spent the last year preparing for this week. First, it was a Compliance Unit Inspection; now, it's a Unit Effectiveness Inspection. We learned about this database program to track checklist compliance with a tool called the Management Internal Control Toolset, which I also learned is a verb, as in, "I've been MICT'd!" We realized there were things we didn't know, and we had a chance to get smarter about how we each perform our piece of the Wing mission. Now, the inspectors have arrived, and we are anticipating the initial in-brief for the inspection. We're spending this week showcasing our people, our facilities and our performance. Soon, the out-brief will be here, and like the day after Christmas during the busiest holiday season, we will be able to breathe easily until the next inspection season arrives well down the road...right?

Wrong. Remember how the inspection name changed to UEI? As many of you have heard, the Air Force has revamped the inspection program in order to more closely align inspection readiness with mission readiness. This is great news! All the work we have accomplished to this point will be a springboard to launch into the new inspection program because the emphasis is on continual self-inspection to ensure we remain in compliance. In accordance with Air Force direction, the Wing is standing up a more robust Inspector General office to lead the transformation to the new system. At the unit level, commanders will appoint self-inspection monitors and implement a Commander's Inspection Program.

MICT will become a way of life. The Air Force is revising self-inspection checklists, incorporating them with each Air Force Instruction, and standardizing which units should run which checklists. While I joke about the initial technical glitches, the system will help us identify immediately when we fall out of compliance, what actions or resources are required to regain compliance, and most importantly, why we fell out of compliance so that we can prevent a repeat occurrence. Of course, MICT is a tool, and it will not automatically identify our deficiencies. All Airmen will need to study up and be smart on the level of compliance required in order to identify when we're not meeting the standard.

To prepare ourselves for the new inspection program, we need to take a hard look at our results from this inspection. In the flying world, we debrief each sortie to identify our execution errors and lessons learned. We need to do the same here. All of us must review areas that we either knew were not in compliance or had pointed out to us. We must determine the root cause for the deficiency and fix the process that led to it, not just treat the symptoms.

As we move forward, we must continue to be honest in our assessments. Admit when something is not right, and then fix it. As Col. Croft has reminded us from his own experiences, don't solely focus on those areas you've deemed weak. Fight complacency and keep an eye on all programs to ensure even the strong ones keep up with changes and don't become stagnant.

The Fighting 49ers have done an outstanding job preparing for and executing the UEI. During the monthly, then bi-weekly, then weekly wing leadership meetings leading up to the inspection, I continually was amazed as commanders reported deficiencies, and then explained how their Airmen solved and eliminated them over time. Throughout the weeks, the deficiencies reported became fewer and fewer, until we were identifying items like a non-existent wing commander policy on golf course tee times...true story. Your dedication and commitment are nothing short of awesome. Be proud of your performance, and keep up the momentum as we launch into the new inspection program. The inspection doesn't stop here!