21st Space Wing reaches inspection milestone

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By Michael Golembesky, 21st Space Wing Public Affairs / Published April 15, 2014

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNS) --

The Air Force Inspector General recognized the 21st Space Wing as the first active-duty or Reserve wing in the Air Force to fully implement the Air Force Inspection System, or AFIS, and become commander’s inspection program capable.

The 21st Space Wing achieved this milestone in February while leveraging an outstanding test bed effort on the part of U.S. Air Forces in Europe units.

We worked aggressively on the implementation of this new system within our wing,” said Col. John Shaw, the 21st Space Wing commander. “I am proud of the accomplishments of the 21st Space Wing and our IG team and look forward to improving our mission effectiveness through this inspection system.”

The AFIS is focused on assessing and reporting on a unit’s overall readiness to execute their assigned missions. The assessments are conducted regularly from within the organization, which is an adjustment from the previous system of bi-annual inspections conducted by an external organization.

“The old system focused on an external team assessing our units,” Shaw said. “It showed compliance at one given moment in time. The AFIS is focused on gauging the wing’s ability to self-assess on a regular basis – it is looking at what units have done to review, assess, and improve their programs since their last inspection.”

The system is seen as a much-improved process to the previous style of inspections, especially with its emphasis on placing responsibility in the hands of commanders and directors.

“This is proving to be fantastic; I am very excited that we are moving in this direction,” said Dr. L. J. Van Belkum, the 21st Space Wing inspector general. “The responsibility for conducting internal inspections is acknowledged as a commander’s role, which is what has always been true.”

With inspection oversight being recognized as the unit commander’s responsibility, there is also increased information flow and more timely corrective responses to issues on a regular basis. It ensures units are mission and inspection ready at all times.

This constant self-assessment also helps Airmen within each unit. Under the previous system, inspection preparation created a bi-annual strain, which could interfere with an Airman’s focus on the day-to-day mission.

“The frantic preparation was unsustainable,” Van Belkum said. “You can’t maintain at that speed and expect to stay mission ready and focused. Everyone was exhausted by the end of our most recent Consolidated Unit Inspection; the AFIS is designed to eliminate that. Now instead of just a snapshot of where our compliance is at one given moment, it’s more of a photo album spanning two years, looking at what units have done to maintain their programs since their last inspection.”

In order to aid in this constant self-assessment, the wing created a strategic plan to execute the AFIS.

“Our plan leverages multiple ways of assessment and reporting over time,” Shaw said. “We have a rigorous two-year plan at squadron, group, wing and external levels to achieve this plan.”

Units will also use the management internal control toolset to help streamline and create a more user-friendly process for maintaining and reviewing records as needed.

“This is a far better system; we were one of the first wings to start using MICT and we are looking forward to the way ahead,” Van Belkum said.

“While we know we don’t have this AFIS 100 percent right, we are on a good course to meet its intent of improving operations within the wing,” Shaw said. “I know we have the right people armed with the plan and tools needed to maintain this success and look forward to continued development of the AFIS.”

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