119th Wing Breezes Through Its Unit Compliance Inspection
By Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp, 119th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 31, 2008
Fargo, N.D. -- Many years of dotting the i's and crossing the t's culminated favorably during a U.S. Air Force Unit Compliance Inspection (UCI) Sept. 18-23 for the North Dakota Air National Guard (NDANG).
The tedious and stressful process of reviewing and self-inspecting piles of paperwork and researching updates to Air Force regulations came to a climactic conclusion during the six-day UCI in Fargo.
A team of 39 Air Combat Command/Inspector General (ACC/IGIS) UCI inspectors arrived on the flight line at the NDANG in a U.S. Navy C-9 Thursday, Sept. 18, ready to look through file plans and question personnel about their knowledge of the Air Force policies and procedures.
To prepare for the UCI, NDANG members had been evaluating themselves and one another for many months prior to the arrival of the UCI inspection team. Reviewing of regulation compliance checklists has been a daily ritual for individuals and groups alike for the past several months at the NDANG in an effort to not only pass the inspection, but to excel.
The challenge of a UCI has been increased by the recent mission transitions for the NDANG from the F-16 aircraft to the MQ-1 Unmanned Aerial System and the C-21 aircraft.
"It can be a challenge for an inspector to keep up with the changes that occur in the U.S. Air Force, just as it is for the people who are being inspected," said Senior Master Sgt. Michelle Reitan, of the 119th Civil Engineer Squadron, who has been a member of operational readiness inspection (ORI) teams as well as a unit member being inspected.
"It really takes diligence to stay on top of the regulations and to be prepared for inspections on a regular basis. It takes doing a little bit at a time every day to be prepared for these inspections," Reitan said.
Changes are an everyday occurrence in technical areas of the Air National Guard, such as the Communications Flight, which increases the pressure of inspections.
"Ever-changing technology systems and software with constant downwardly directed updates make it challenging to stay current with regulations in the information technology area," said Chief Master Sgt. Patti Mark, the 119th Communications Flight base network control center superintendent. "Network security issues are fast-paced and updates are critical to the protection of our communications process, which is now categorized as a weapons system,"
The anxiety level is high during an inspection because the results can be a reflection on how well a unit is doing its job.
"Maintaining a good attitude during the inspection process is critical to a successful inspection. I welcome inspections because it keeps us better prepared to do our job," Reitan said.
Hooligan pride was evident during the inspection as unit members embraced the challenge and enthusiastically interacted with the inspectors.
The 119th Security Forces Squadron was one of many areas singled out for recognition by the inspection team.
"From top to bottom the Security Forces Squadron here has been outstanding. Your folks are doing everything right," said Col. William Mullins, UCI team chief. "This is the first Combat Arms Training and Maintenance shop to receive zero negative comments by this UCI team."
Tech. Sgt. Levi J. Heller was individually recognized within the 119th Security Forces Squadron and Col. Mullins presented him with a rare inspector general (IG) commander's coin. Only one-half of one percent of personnel inspected earn the IG Commander's Coin in recognition of excellence. It was only the fourth such coin presented in the last 14 months.
The positive feedback stemmed far beyond the Security Forces, however.
"Coming from the active duty side, it surprises me to see the Guard guys come in one weekend a month and see how well they pull this off in the fire hall. It makes me feel good to see them meet the same standards that full-time personnel have to meet," said Senior Master Sgt. Gerald A. Johnson, an ACC/IGIS fire department inspector.
The results of the UCI positively reflected the hard work the Happy Hooligans put in on a day-to-day basis in addition to their thorough preparations for the inspection.
The inspection team only documents whether the unit complies, complies with comments, or does not comply in the UCI report, but the number of negatives was extremely low.
"My assessment is that we turned in an absolutely outstanding overall performance, that we have a lot of extremely relieved, happy and proud personnel here, that we got a great baseline document to focus our efforts on and that we left a very positive opinion of the NDANG with the inspection team," said Col. Robert J. Becklund, 119th Wing commander, upon hearing the out-brief from UCI Team Chief Col. Mullins.
Brig. Gen. Alan W. Palmer, the Air Component Commander of the North Dakota National Guard, read portions of an evaluation of the 119th Wing written by Chief Master Sgt. Harold L. Clark, the ACC/IG Team Superintendent, to a large gathering of Happy Hooligans upon completion of the UCI.
The letter was full of praise for the NDANG, but can be summed up with the following statements by Clark, "I was impressed by the level of professionalism, enthusiasm, pride and genuine hospitality of every member of the Happy Hooligans and attribute it to the great leadership provided by this enthusiastic and engaged leadership team. The Airmen of the 119th Wing are ready, willing and able to continually evolve and execute their mission," and "Wing members were professional in their behavior and appearance without exception. This is one of the most professional organizations I have visited."