Safety, Compliance, Innovation, and the USAF Commander's Inspection Program

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Commanders and supervisors are charged to create an environment where training and operations are conducted in a safe manner, standards and procedures are strictly adhered to, and where at the same time service members feel empowered to suggest improvements and innovations to enhance efficiency.

The Air Force has deployed a new inspection process to focus on these three important elements.

The Commander's Inspection Program is designed to entrust wing commanders with the responsibility to ensure their organizations meet standards and are mission-ready. The final phase of the CCIP is the "Unit Effectiveness Inspection Capstone Event" which occurs in two-year intervals and involves a validation by the Inspector General that installation-level processes are compliant.

At McChord Field, the 62nd Airlift Wing, 446th Airlift Wing, and the 627th Air Base Group will undergo their first Capstone Event from Sept. 3-13.

The event will include evaluations by a team of 100 inspectors coming primarily from Air Mobility Command which is the 62nd Airlift Wing's Major Command.

The inspectors will evaluate units on safety, compliance, and innovation across four major graded areas: Leading People, Managing Resources, Improving the Unit, and Executing the Mission. These MGAs are important parts of all military organizations and the constructs can be applicable to all units across Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Leading People
Leadership is the cornerstone of military effectiveness. For this MGA, Air Force commanders and supervisors will be evaluated on effective two-way communication, proper training to ensure safe operations, appropriate development of personnel, proper administration of discipline, and the overall quality of life. The Capstone Event is more than a traditional inspection as it will also include several hundred interviews by the IG of Air Force members and spouses to gauge the effectiveness of the organization in the Leading People MGA.

Managing Resources
As members of the military, we are charged with maintaining vast resources up to and including McChord's fleet of C-17 Globemaster III aircraft valued at more than $11 billion. In evaluating this MGA the Air Force is taking a new approach to both assess the stewardship of units in the field and the adequacy of resources provided by higher headquarters for the mission. Evaluating stewardship will involve traditional checks on use of government funds, equipment, and facilities. Stewardship will also include a determination on whether commanders and supervisors best used "Airmen's Time." Stated another way, leaders at the unit level must demonstrate how they have used innovation to minimize the time required to execute tasks or complete training. The adequacy review will ensure commanders and members have the resources to train and conduct operations.

Improving the Unit
Every commander and supervisor should strive to improve their personnel and operations. To determine success in this area, evaluators will look to see if the unit's planning and performance measures are aligned to the higher-level mission. Also, a critical component of improving the unit and innovation is determining whether personnel have embraced continuous process improvement which involves not just resolving problem areas but instead seeking out the root causes to avoid future recurrence. Nested in this area is also a requirement to ensure commanders and leaders are making data-driven decisions which result in the minimum expenditure of resources. Finally, inspectors will evaluate the unit's Commanders Inspection Program itself to ensure improved performance can be sustained.

Executing the Mission
This MGA is judged by assessing actual mission performance and metrics. Determining mission performance can range from assessing actual off-station operations to the quality of day-to-day home station duties. Both compliance and safety are a strong component of this MGA. For example, it is critical that Air Force operators strictly adhere to flight manuals and that maintenance and support personnel comply 100 percent with technical orders and Air Force instructions. Leadership should maintain and use appropriate metrics to sample the effectiveness of mission execution. These measures can include on-time take-offs, maintenance quality assurance inspection reports, and customer service feedback.

All units on JBLM have dynamic processes and diverse missions. Understanding the U.S. Air Force's new approach to assessing its units has a direct impact on joint operations as it should increase the level of confidence in Air Force units and give U.S. Army leaders new perspectives with which to evaluate their own units. Members of Team McChord welcome the chance to showcase our abilities to the IG inspectors and look forward to continuing the joint training mission here at JBLM.