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Commander's Column

Col James J. Keefe official photo.

Col James J. Keefe official photo.

104th Fighter Wing, Westfield, Mass. -- The "NEW" Air Force Inspection System (AFIS)

"The Air Force Inspection System relies on inspections by the Inspector General (IG) and assessments and evaluations by functional area managers (FAMs) to ensure that all wings comply with Air Force standards and are ready to execute their contingency missions. These oversight activities have grown dramatically over time, despite repeated efforts to limit the burden they place on individual Air Force wings as well as the IGs and the FAMs, all of which are operating under increasingly constrained resources. The Office of the Inspector General of the Air Force (SAF/IG) is now leading an Air Force-wide effort to make significant changes in the inspection system and reduce this burden while at the same time improving the quality of oversight the inspection system provides." - (2013 USAF authorized RAND Co. Report, "Charting the Course for a New Air Force Inspection System.")

I have mentioned in previous columns that we (USAF) are changing the way we inspect ourselves. In early 2011, the USAF asked the RAND Corporation to study a better way to ensure wings were combat ready while maintaining compliance with the numerous government laws, directives and instructions. What followed, after two years of discussion, was the new Air Force Inspection System, or AFIS. As we begin to prepare for our upcoming inspection in 2015, I thought it would be appropriate to give you a broad overview of this new system.

The big picture is that the USAF is trying to get away from "inspection prep," (a.k.a. rock painting) and focus more on executing the mission. The idea is to reduce wing-level compliance items in AFIs (less checklists), eliminate non-value-added inspection requirements (move from traditional ATSO focus to mission-assurance C2 focus), increase compliance and innovation at the wing level, and build skill "mastery" by focusing on AFSC skills. A fundamental difference is that the wing commander will now run the inspections through the Commander's Inspection Program or CIP.

The CIP consists of two key components and is the foundation of the new AFIS. The first is a wing inspection program, executed by the wing IG, with support from subject-matter experts in the Wing Inspection Team (WIT) -"old EET"; to inspect groups, squadrons and other organizations below the wing level. The second is a self-assessment program, using MICT, that reports compliance with requirements listed in Self-Assessment Checklists (SAC) to the chain of command and appropriate staffs.

The wing commander, through an expanded wing IG team, will focus on four major graded areas (MGAs): 1-Executing the mission (think old ORI stuff); 2-Managing Resources (consisting of elements of the previous UCI); 3- Leading People (our training, quality of life and communication skills); 4- Improving the Unit (our inspection program, strategic planning, etc.).

Our IG shop will also expand with a total of four functional leads, some being full-time members, whose primary job will be to ensure the wing executes the commander's inspection program. This shop will consist of an IG (oversees IG shop and CIP), and IGI (an expanded "warlord" function; runs operational inspections, certifies wing inspectors), IGQ (compliance resolution-the traditional IG function in the wing) and an Inspection Superintendent. We have been in discussions on who will fill these roles, but have not made any decisions at this time.

We will be looking at our best and brightest to fill these new and expanded roles.
So how does the ACC/IG team fit into this new system? The MAJCOM/IG's duty will be two-fold. First, to validate the commander's inspection program; and second, to assess the unit's leadership, effectiveness, and culture through the four major graded areas mentioned previously during Unit Effectiveness Inspections (UEIs), also known as the "mother of all inspections." These will be scheduled every four years for ACC-gained ANG units; with our first one scheduled for June 2015.

What will our UEI look like in June of 2015? This is the facet of the new AFIS, which is a little fuzzy at this time. It is intended to be a combination of all inspections rolled into one, to include: HSI, LCAP, ESOHCAMP, Phase I and Phase II, IAAP, and an Operations Group Stan/EVAL inspection and will be graded in the traditional 5-tier system -unsatisfactory through outstanding. The UEI, also called a CAPSTONE inspection, can be tailored by a unit completing requirements prior to the UEI date. A unit can complete elements of the four major graded areas up to one year prior to the scheduled UEI. An example is a unit which is deploying for a contingency or a training exercise. That unit would be able to contact the MAJCOM/IG and have the "Phase I" portion of the "Executing the Mission" MGA graded at that time, alleviating the need to inspect that portion during the UEI visit.

I hope this short primer has given you a broad overview of what is coming with respect to our inspection cycle. The command staff is in the process of educating ourselves on these new requirements as directed by SECAF. You can expect more information in the near future as we build our IG team and formalize our new inspection program. Col. Ken Lambrich will be the wing point of contact for the implementation of this new system, with meetings planned for this Fall. Given our legacy of excellence, I see no reason why we cannot meet this new challenge with an "outstanding" grade!

Thank you all for your continued leadership and dedication to the 104th.