by Monica Mendoza
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — At any time, a team of inspectors from Air Force Space Command will descend on Peterson Air Force Base to thoroughly scrutinize every aspect of the 21st Space Wing’s operations.
“The things AFSPC (inspector General) is authorized to look at, in short, is everything,” said LJ Van Belkum, 21st Space Wing deputy inspector general.
The wing is in the window for its Operational Readiness Inspection and Unit Compliance Inspection. Typically, inspections are done about every 18 to 24 months, Ms. Van Belkum said.
The 21st Space Wing emerged from its last ORI in April 2009 – 18 months ago — with a “satisfactory” grade. During that ORI, more than 100 inspectors graded initial response, employment, mission support, and ability to survive and operate in crisis conditions. Those inspectors visited base agencies as well as many of its GSUs, including Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station; Thule Air Base, Greenland; Clear AFS, Alaska and Copenhagen, Denmark.
The inspection took a grueling 33 days and the wing conducted real-world business while performing inspection activities, which typically include a mobility line, setting up remote work stations, and running simulated natural and man-imposed disasters.
ORIs are conducted to evaluate the ability of a unit to perform its wartime or contingency missions. A five-tier rating system – outstanding, excellent, satisfactory, marginal and unsatisfactory – is used for major graded areas and overall wing performance.
A UCI assesses areas mandated by law as well as mission areas identified by senior leadership as critical or important to assess the health and performance of the organization. In 2009, the UCI tested 35 areas in three broad categories of special interest items, common core compliance areas and mission areas. During the last inspection the 21st SW earned an “in compliance with comments” designation.
This time around Airmen should be prepared for inspectors to review every write-up from the 2009 inspection – 517 in all. Write-ups can be found in the 21st SW inspection reports, Ms. Van Belkum said.
There is a theory that if Airmen perform daily the way their duties are outlined, there is no need to prepare for an inspection, per se. Throughout the year, Airmen perform self inspections, host compliance Thursdays and participate in Condor Crest quarterly exercises to ensure they are meeting Air Force mandates in emergency management activities.
Still, Ms. Van Belkum encouraged Airmen to run through self inspections to ensure that all the ‘Ts’ are crossed. Understandably, Airmen ought to know their Airman’s Manual pretty well, projecting that they will be asked questions in accordance with the manual.
“Use the self inspection program now to get ready,” Ms. Van Belkum told Airmen during a Sept. 28 commander’s call at the Peterson auditorium. “When AFSPC asks you a question, they will want to see some documentation that proves this is how you do it.”
Chief Master Sgt. Robert Sealey, 21st SW command chief, said he is looking for an “outstanding” rating in the next ORI. Earning that designation will require teamwork, he said. He encouraged Airmen to stay focused, especially with the upcoming holiday season and other duty responsibilities, saying the inspectors could arrive any day now.
“As we prepare for the ORI/UCI there will be frustrations,” Chief Sealey told Airmen during the commander’s call. “Remember, we fail as a team and we succeed as a team.”