Sprinting to the finish line



by Capt. Brittany Martin
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs


4/25/2012 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- You're at mile 25.2 - one mile left. You can see the tape stretched across the finish line. You've been training for this marathon all year...your legs want to give out, but instead, you force yourself into a sprint.

Sheppard Air Force Base has been preparing diligently for eight months for the approaching compliance inspection scheduled to begin April 30 for the 80th Flying Training Wing and May 7 for the 82nd Training Wing, and according to Lt. Col. Jeoffrey Sloan, chief of Wing Plans and Programs, it's time to sprint to the finish line.

"We're continuing to push as hard as we can until May 11," Sloan said. "We're tired, but the last week, the inspection, is the sprint to the finish."

Sloan said the way to finish strong is through the right attitude in interactions with the Inspector General team and showcasing unit processes.

"Being in compliance is important...doing your job by the book, but IG inspectors also gauge compliance by our people," Sloan said.

Sloan encouraged the base to show pride and enthusiasm in talking to the inspectors; to lead the IG by the hand through the unit's presentation of programs; and to clearly articulate strengths, which are what drive a wing's rating from a satisfactory to an excellent.

"Complacency is the enemy when it comes to compliance," said Maj. Joseph Banks, Wing Plans and Programs deputy chief.

The long road traveled to get the base ready for the CI has been marked by anything but complacency. Sloan said the process started by units looking at themselves through a complete self inspection of all programs.

After those areas were fixed, tiger teams were brought in and another round of findings were identified and corrected. Finally, external inspection teams from other bases arrived to conduct another inspection.

"We've been through three rounds of finding things and fixing them; that's how we got to where we are today," Sloan said.

In addition, the base has been conducting monthly exercises to prepare for the exercise part of the inspection. Banks said one of the keys to a successful exercise is to maintain a sense of urgency, not just for the inspection, but for every exercise. Exercises are designed to present a base with a possible real-world scenario and give personnel an opportunity to practice appropriate responses, from performing self-aid and buddy care to executing unit functions.

"Each time we've gotten better and better," Sloan said. "After this last time, the base is ready."

Per Air Force Instruction, the exercise won't be the same as any scenario the base has conducted in the past six months, but Sloan is confident all the key parts and players have been exercised and are ready for the inspection.

The culture of compliance won't stop after the inspectors leave. In preparing the base for the CI, the focus was on identifying broken areas and putting good processes in place to ensure the problem would not occur again.

"This is a constant effort," Banks said. "We're looking at it from a process standpoint."

Overall, Sloan says the base is ready for this inspection.

"We're in position to do very well," Sloan said. "We're putting the last little edge on the sword to make it super sharp."

But his caution remains - don't let up.

"We're looking at this thing like a war," he said. "You have to know who your enemies are. The enemy is apathy, not the IG."