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Self Inspection Program: A tool for every commander

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Over the course of the last year, the Air Force Materiel Command's Inspector General's office has been diligently working to enhance the entire Self Inspection Program. In February, they hosted a week long Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century Rapid Improvement Event to get the program reenergized, if you will, and set out on an aggressive agenda to ensure each AFMC base could use the SIP as a tool for success. 

Today, the program is off and running and offers commanders' a tool to help ensure their respective wing/group/squadron is ready for the Unit Compliance Inspection, Eglin is scheduled to have any time after Feb. 1, 2009. 

That's correct; although originally Eglin was scheduled for the UCI in August 2009, AFMC IG just recently gained approval through the AFMC Council to go to limited or no-notice inspections. Therefore, we actually become vulnerable this coming February, as a result of this change. 

Our task then is to ensure we are ready well before we get official notification from the AFMC IG. Our No. 1 priority is to ensure each unit has completed their respective SIP and accurately self-identified deficiencies, performed a root cause analysis and institutionalized viable corrective actions to maintain consistent day-to-day compliance. 

This, of course, is no easy task and takes a concerted effort by the entire team to make sure we are ready and in compliance. 

Okay, some of you may be wondering, what is the purpose of the unit SIP? According to AFMC Instruction 90-202, the SIP is to provide commanders/directors with a tool to internally assess unit compliance with public law, Department of Defense and Air Force policy, and mission areas identified by senior Air Force and Major Command leadership as critical to a unit's health and performance. Failure to comply with established directives in these areas could result in significant legal liabilities, penalties, and/or significant mission degradation. 

Recently I came across an article written by a former Air Mobility Command IG, Maj. Gen. Mark Zamzow. In the article, General Zamzow stated, "everyone in today's Air Force needs to realize that a routine inspection of any type is, in fact, a good thing, an opportunity, a chance to: 

1) Conduct a detailed scrub of your regulatory compliance and mission capabilities. 

2) Identify and fix discrepancies, problems and weaknesses. 

3) Improve morale and teamwork by rallying your folks behind a common near term objective. 

4) Demonstrate your unit's ability to support the Warfighter. 

5) Validate just how good your unit really is!" 

General Zamzow's words of advice are spot on with how we all should approach our upcoming UCI. It almost goes without saying that any unit with a positive/robust SIP will do significantly better than one where leadership and unit members have failed to embrace the SIP. AFMC Inspectors will be looking for those highly motivated and enthusiastic unit members who are proud of their respective programs and are eager to show them off. 

Finally, let me once again remind you that the road ahead is a tough one, but one in which if we embrace it ... we will "knock the socks off" of the AFMC Inspectors. Remember, we have the SIP tool to guide us and prepare us, and of course let's not forget -- again quoting from General Zamzow's article, "all the answers about the way things should be done are already out there in the form of laws, Air Force instructions, policy letters, operating instructions, technical orders, self-inspection checklists and more." 

Our task is clear ... now let's get energized, demonstrate a sense of urgency and complete the annual SIP checklist.

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