Following three Ps leads to higher inspection ratings

  • Published
  • By Maj Richard L. Folks II
  • 71st Communications Squadron
So here we are, a year out from the next Operational Readiness Inspection. No problem, we have plenty of time to prepare ... right? That all depends on what your unit wants to achieve during the next ORI.
If your unit hopes to achieve an "Excellent" or higher rating, and you haven't already started a rigorous self-inspection program, your unit may be behind the power curve. So how does one go about achieving an "Outstanding" rating?
I'm no expert on self-inspection, so I talked to other units in the Air Force that had achieved "Outstanding" ratings. Those I spoke with provided me with an abundance of information on preparing for and succeeding during an ORI. Rather than attempt to share all of the information, I have refined it down to three "Ps" for ORI success.
The first "P" stands for preparation. I think most of the folks in my unit would equate this "P" to pain in the rear. The 71st Communications Squadron began this phase in February 2004; and we are still hard at work, running checklists, identifying strengths and weaknesses in our programs and assessing if we are supporting our customer the best way we can. Our preparation has included the
development of standardized self-inspection binders that answer every Inspector General checklist item. In addition, we created a database to track all self-inspections, strengths and deficiencies. The database is important for documenting our progress and ensuring that we are correcting discrepancies in a timely manner. To ensure proper focus, we have set aside one self-inspection day every month. On self-inspection day, we send out several inspectors comprised of the commander (me), flight commanders, superintendents and NCOs in charge. The inspection takes about two hours, and the rest of the day is spent correcting discrepancies and reviewing checklists. Preparation is crucial to ORI success; the sooner a unit begins, the more time they will have to tweak and improve their programs.
The second "P" stands for practice. We in the 71st FTW are very fortunate to have a superb wing exercise evaluation team led by Maj Steve Yarbrough. The EET runs an exercise every month to help the wing identify areas where we can improve our responsiveness/reactions to threats and situations that may occur. These exercises are excellent tools not only for ORI purposes, but more importantly, to ensure we, as a wing, respond properly to real-world crises. The best thing you can do in this area is to take the exercises seriously, respond with urgency and learn how to improve by reviewing the results and findings following the exercise. Also, don't be afraid to exercise scenarios within your unit. For instance, we in communications are responsible for reacting to INFOCON conditions. Therefore, it makes sense for us to audit our ability to react to viruses, hacker attacks and denial of service attacks. Only through practice can we respond effectively.
The last "P" is often given less attention; yet it's so vital to success ... it is presentation. After all the hard work and preparation leading up to an inspection, it is very important for all of Team Vance to convey their commitment, professionalism, pride and dedication to the mission. There are many ways of presenting your accomplishments to the inspectors, but the one I feel is most effective is when the unit's Airmen give the inspectors hands-on demonstrations and walkthroughs of their programs. The quality of our troops in the 71st FTW is amazing, and we want that to come across during the inspection. If it does, I can't imagine how any unit at Vance AFB could be rated less than "Excellent."
Where do you want to be after the next ORI ... now is the time to decide!