Every Airman is a sensor

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Lance Hofer
  • 71st Flying Training Wing director of Inspections

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Every Airman performs an important role in fulfilling the 71st Flying Training Wing’s mission of developing Airmen, delivering pilots, and deploying warriors.

To accomplish this mission, the wing follows required guidance and identifies areas of non-compliance. Commanders rely on you, the individual Airman, to perform your job and inform them of instances of not following the rules, or noncompliance.

Every Airman is responsible for identifying areas of noncompliance regarding Air Force Instructions and written guidance. This noncompliance can be due to lack of guidance, training, manpower or even funding.

This is important to me as the wing director of Inspections because Airmen play a critical role in unit compliance.

The Air Force Inspection System is continual in nature, unlike the past where there was a mad rush to prepare for the upcoming inspection – paint the grass green and make everything look perfect.

Units are now expected to continuously self-assess and identify areas of noncompliance. Don’t fear reporting the “red.”

The inspection system consists of four levels. Individual reporting is the most basic level in which “every Airman is a sensor.”

The next and most familiar level is the Commander’s Inspection Program which includes self-inspections, exercises and inspections.

The Unit Effectiveness Inspection is the next level and occurs once every two years. This is a capstone event where a team of major-command inspectors, Air Education and Training Command in our case, visits the wing for about a week to perform an on-site inspection and validate what the wing has reported for the last two years.

Vance’s UEI is scheduled for April 3-10, 2017, but the reality is the inspection has probably already started through a virtual inspection of our CCIP and other areas.

Because we are constantly self-assessing our ability to execute the mission and reporting areas of non-compliance, Airmen do not need to overly focus on the upcoming inspection. Instead, focus on day-to-day operations and ensure tasks are correctly performed as guidance requires. If we do this, the UEI and the wing will be successful.

The last and organizationally highest level of the inspection system is the Management Inspection. The headquarters of the major command and the numbered Air Force and selected programs are inspected.

How do you fit into this inspection system? You are at the ground level and part of the individual-reporting tier. I need you to vigilantly look for areas in which you or your unit are noncompliant. It’s important that you don’t “fear the red.”

If you know of or see non-compliance, you need to highlight it to leadership. Watch out for cutting corners and “Vance-isms.” While sometimes completely legitimate, whenever you hear people say, “That’s just the way we do it here,” reexamine the guidance and see if the action is in compliance.

What should you do if you discover an area of non-compliance? Use your chain of command and elevate the issue to the commander.

The commander has the authority to fix the problem or accept the risk associated with non-compliance. Only commanders have this authority. It is your responsibility to elevate it to their level.

Commanders, through the unit’s self-assessment program manager, should document and track areas of non-compliance and request waivers as appropriate.

So yes, every Airman is a sensor. You are the eyes and ears of your commander and have the best visibility at the tactical level. Because you play a critical role in executing the wing’s mission and ensuring it is done right, you are the most important piece of the Air Force inspection system.