Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado —
10/19/2015 - BUCKLEY AFB, Colo. -- Airmen from the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard, participated in a four-day large scale combat readiness assessment, the Wing Wartime Readiness Inspection at Buckley Air Force Base, Oct. 15 -18, 2015.
The WWRI is one of the ways the 140th Wing is implementing the new Air Force Inspection System and was intended to assess each unit exclusively on their ability to perform their specific deployed mission.
"The WWRI differs greatly from any inspection we had in the past," said Maj. Susan Ruby, 140th Wing Inspector General, "it brings value added training for every unit."
Under the new AFIS, the 140th Wing is able to focus on mission readiness and improving mission effectiveness with a series of internally planned inspections and evaluations throughout the year, rather than gearing up for one big Operational Readiness Inspection every few years, as was done in the past.
The new inspection system relies heavily on the Commander's Inspection Program, which is designed to give the wing commander responsibility for the unit's compliance, readiness and ability to execute its mission. The wing commander oversees the wing's Inspector General team, that helps coordinate exercises and inspections to continually assess the wing on four Major Graded Areas: managing resources, leading people, improving the unit and executing the mission.
During the WWRI, the 140th Wing's IG team worked with the wing's designated inspection team members to create training scenarios and exercises that were specifically tailored to each individual unit's mission, to assess the wing's wartime readiness.
"We have trained Wing Inspection Team members throughout each organization in the wing," said Ruby. "They designed the exercise scenario for their own team that would stress critical areas so that they could find weaknesses or areas of non-compliance within their organization."
Since each unit was responsible for planning and executing their own plans for the WWRI, there were numerous events and exercise scenarios running simultaneously throughout the course of the extended drill weekend.
The 140th Operations Group and 140th Maintenance Group worked together to challenge the wartime flying mission, surge-flying over 50 sorties over a two-day flying window. However there were also countless, less audible exercises going on at the same time around the base.
Members of the 140th Civil Engineer Squadron trained on Status of Resources and Training System reports, shooting the M4 carbine assault rifle, gearing up to perform Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear readiness training and working on Self-Aid Buddy Care, while also constructing facilities on a simulated bare base.
"In the big Air Force we are one piece of the chess board," said Lt. Col. Jeremy Milliman, commander, 140th Civil Engineering Squadron. "Our job as an Air National Guard CE unit is to be prepared to deploy; we are exercising our wartime tasks."
This exercise is more realistic, Milliman explained. "It puts our Airmen in the scenario and teaches them to overcome and adapt to a situation, rather than practicing multiple times to perfection and then getting inspected," he said.
While the 140 CES continued building a base and conducting their CE-specific training, Airmen from the 140th Maintenance Group trained on their specific tasks. One of the scenarios involved the Hydrazine Response Team being deployed to clean up a hydrazine leak from an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft.
"We had to take cautious procedures and put our self-contained breathing apparatus and our protective gear on," said Staff Sgt. Derek Zabienski, aircraft fuel systems mechanic and a member of the HRT, 140 MXG.
Zabienski explained the procedures the HRT takes in cleaning, neutralizing and getting back to normal operations after a hazardous spill, which is a critical emergency response process that the team exercised during the WWRI.
"Command, control and safety is huge," said Master Sgt. Daren Igel, Wing Inspection Team member, 140 MXG. "They were very safe and did a great job. We will continue doing our job better and better and keep the unit as the best wing out there."
Meanwhile, on the other side of base, the 140th Security Forces Squadron filled their days with expeditionary skills training scenarios (CBRNE followed by Self Aid Buddy Care), flight line intruder exercises, and using the weapons training simulator, where students were put through lethal and non-lethal force situations.
"What we are assessing our patrolmen on are the basic foundational skills and correct positioning when challenging an individual during Use of Force simulations," said Master Sgt. Patrick Nay, unit training manager, 140 SFS. "This benefits our SF members to be comfortable in using force and to eliminate hesitation time."
Everyone from the inspectors to the lowest Airmen play a part in the inspection. Under the new system, Airmen are encouraged to report to their leadership any time they see something that is not right or in accordance with regulations.
Senior Airman Kathryn Nay, patrolman, 140 SFS truly embraced the concept during the SF training. "These are people we trust with our lives and they trust us with their lives. It is important for us to communicate everything we see and be honest with ourselves as a unit so that we can truly improve."
Even members of the 233d Space Group, Greeley Air National Guard Station, joined in and accomplished required training on loading and unloading tractor trailers onto a C-17 Globemaster III from the 183rd Airlift Squadron, Mississippi Air National Guard.
"You need a licensed driver, two load crew members and five Airmen on each side of the truck to back a trailer onto an aircraft," said Tech. Sgt. Michelle Scherger, logistician, 233 SG. With little room for error, the task tested the entire crew and helped fine tune their process for the future.
All these exercises were only a small portion of the training that units exercised over the long weekend, all with the intent to stress their capabilities, find weaknesses, and fix them.
"After the WWRI is done, it's time to work on the improvement part," said Ruby. "There are three critical things; root cause analysis, corrective action plan and the estimated completion date."
At the conclusion of the WWRI, each unit is tasked to find the root cause of any noted deficiencies, create an action plan to improve, and correct the scenario.
Ruby summed it up after a long and very busy drill weekend. "The goal under the new Air Force Inspection System is to 'inspect to improve', and I think we successfully accomplished that through the WWRI."