by Monica Mendoza
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Col. Stephen N. Whiting, 21st Space Wing commander, asked Airmen to imagine what it must have felt like to be a member of the Green Bay Packers as they entered the stadium tunnel for this year’s Super Bowl.
Think of all the preparation that led up to that moment, he said during his Commander’s Call Feb. 18 in Hangar 140. The Green Bay Packers played three play-off games, 16 regular season games, four pre-season games, participated in camp, lifting sessions and running sessions and had all of their college and high school experience behind them just to be prepared for that moment.
“That’s where we are right now,” he said.
Colonel Whiting told 21st Space Wing Airmen and civilians that he believes they are ready for the upcoming Operational Readiness Inspection and Unit Compliance Inspection, slated for Feb. 27 to March 21. During that timeframe, a team of inspectors from Headquarters Air Force Space Command will scrutinize every aspect of the wing’s operations.
To recap the wing’s game plan: the 21st Space Wing has had six one-week exercises in the past 18 months; 14 no-notice short sprint exercises; deep dives, blue team visits, compliance Thursdays, deployment exercises, multiple staff assistance visits and individual actions taken within each unit, Colonel Whiting said.
“We are in the tunnel and we are prepared,” he said. “Our job is to win, whether in combat, whether in exercise or whether under inspection.”
The 21st Space Wing was last inspected in April 2009 and earned a “satisfactory” grade. ORIs are conducted to evaluate the ability of the unit to perform their wartime or contingency missions. A five-tier rating system – outstanding, excellent, satisfactory, marginal and unsatisfactory – is used for major graded areas and in overall wing performance.
A UCI assesses areas mandated by law as well as mission areas identified by senior leadership as critical and 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. The 21st SW earned an “in compliance with comments” wdesignation.
Colonel Whiting and Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Trottier, 21st SW command chief, gave some tips for the inspection including, be open and professional and extend proper courtesy at all times; show all support information; and if a problem is discovered, don’t argue with the inspectors. Instead, alert the chain of command.
“It’s better to self identify than let the inspection team catch us unaware,” Chief Trottier said.
Chief Trottier encouraged Team Pete to stay positive. The inspectors, he said, will be here to look at processes, products and procedures on everything from operational security to driving rules on base.
“Compliance is more than a checklist,” Chief Trottier said. “It’s a culture.”
Colonel Whiting asked Airmen to be vigilant and not to get complacent or rely on the wing’s past success to get through the inspection. He encouraged Airmen to exercise with purpose, even if it feels inconvenient.
“I know you have been preparing and we will get a chance to exercise those preparations in the coming weeks and yes, it is inconvenient — we’ll be stuck in shelter-in-place positions, we’ll be stuck in lockdown,” he said. “But, these are the inspections that will prepare us should any horrible incident ever happen in our wing.”
Colonel Whiting said he welcomes the inspection as an opportunity to showcase the successful work the 21st SW military, civilians and contractors do every day.
“Each and every one of you is vital to that success and I look forward to March 21, to be back in this hangar with you celebrating that success,” he said.