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Flexibility key to unit self assessments

U.S. Air Force Colonel Michael J. Feeley, commander, 166th Airlift Wing, Delaware Air National Guard (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Rob Meredith)

U.S. Air Force Colonel Michael J. Feeley, commander, 166th Airlift Wing, Delaware Air National Guard

NEW CASTLE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Delaware -- Flexibility is the key to airpower.

That flexibility will serve us well as we adapt to a new way of evaluating how we do business.

A year ago the secretary of defense directed a revamp of the way U.S. Air Force units ensure they are capable of performing their mission. The result of this directive was to completely change our inspections system.

The old Operational Readiness Inspection model is gone; along with it the habit of rapidly preparing for a big inspection every four years and then going back to business as usual. People from outside the organization will no longer inspect us. We will discover our strengths and where we come up short.

The new model uses the Management Inspection Checklist Tool (MICT) and self-inspections to verify we do things per Air Force Instructions and U.S. statutes. AFIs and statutes still provide the governing direction of how we perform our mission. MICT is simply a checklist of the important tasks that we do to meet mission.

The Unit Effectiveness Inspection "capstone event" that began earlier this week and continues over this UTA is nothing more than a way to ensure wing leadership has the correct picture. It takes a snapshot of a sample of tasks to see if we are accurately reporting how the wing is doing.

By conducting self-inspections and using MICT to identify our strengths and weaknesses, we can then choose how to direct resources to those areas where we are not compliant with the AFI or statute.

The end result is we no longer prepare to pass inspections: doing things the "right" way just to get a pass and then regressing to old bad habits once the inspection is over. Now our efforts are continually focused on ensuring we can and are accomplishing our mission at all times.

This is a new system to everyone. One thing I am sure of is that the men and women of this wing are fully capable, professional, and can handle anything that comes their way. We will be flexible through this time of change and use this capstone to not only highlight the things that we do well, but also prove that we know what we don't do so well.

A cultural shift must occur where we self-discover and then self-report the things we do well and the areas where we are non-compliant. With this knowledge we can then direct resources, whatever they may be, to ensure optimal performance.

This Unit Effectiveness Inspection simply validates that leaders at all levels have a good picture of what we do well and not so well.

Remember: we are not preparing for inspections - we are engaged in a process that ensures we are prepared to do our mission. Nothing is more important than doing our mission.

Be honest with yourselves and with our visitors and we will continue to serve our nation and our community with excellence and pride.