A learning experience

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Autumn Velez
  • 153rd Airlift Wing
The airlift mission is something the 153rd Airlift Wing has no problem accomplishing; it's what the Wyoming Air National Guard does. Prior to August 2017, the wing thought it was doing everything that needed to get done to perform the mission.

However, looming in the background was the underutilized and understaffed Air Force Inspection System. These vacancies became apparent when the Air Mobility Command Inspector General team visited last August for the wing's midpoint evaluation.

"AMC observed quite a few things that were troublesome to them," said Master Sgt. Kelli Strom, 153rd Airlift Wing inspector general superintendent. "This included lack of process operations, documentation, training and compliance. Once they saw these pieces, they pulled the string and it just kept unraveling."

While it is easy to shift blame, the IG office explained it came down to lack of resources and understanding of the program.

"The thing about the Air Force Inspection System that makes it hard for people to understand is that the wing commander is directed to do this, but he isn't resourced from headquarters, so he has to take positions from elsewhere in the wing and put those positions in the IG office to have this program." Strom said. 

When the commander's inspection program was implemented at the wing in 2014, the two-person full- time team (with the help of some traditional members and temporary technicians) had six months to get the program up and running before it was inspected. 

At that point, the wing had performed few inspections, but still managed rating on the low end of the effectiveness spectrum. The IG team pressed forward with a minimally-manned team attempting to implement suggestions and accomplish set requirements.

Fast forward to August 2017, where the wing was forced to face the actual state of its Commander's Inspection Program.

"The failure was a learning experience, not just for the wing, but for our wing leadership and I think they finally understood just how important this program is," Strom said.

After failing the midpoint inspection, commanders added essential staff and restructured the IG program. At full strength, the team hit the ground running.

"It was very fortuitous that we rebuilt this office when we did," said Maj. Matthew Sturtevant, 153rd Airlift Wing inspector general.

With the restructuring of the IG office, five full-time positions were added, allowing the wing to dedicate the time and manpower needed to implement the Commander's Inspection Program.

"In the last six months, we have reshaped the way this wing exercises and maintains compliance and mission readiness," Sturtevant said.

Moving forward, there is now a greater understanding of how the program needs to be run in order to be effective.

"We have a battle rhythm within this office now that extends to the wing and allows the CCIP representatives at the squadron and group levels the adequate support they need to function," Strom said.

To ensure the wing is moving in the right direction, AMC IG has been invited to observe the wing exercise in August.