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2015 UEI Capstone recap for 99th ABW

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- In August 2013, the Air Force initiated the Air Force Inspection System (AFIS) which brought fundamental changes to the way Air Force installations conduct inspections. 

AFIS was designed to improve performance, military discipline, and management excellence up and down the chain of command. 

AFIS is structured around the commander's inspection program (CCIP). CCIP provides commanders with a support system to find and fix problems locally and offers the command chain and higher headquarters staffs performance data to improve policy and programming. It is the backbone of AFIS and gives more power to wing commanders by allowing them to run their wing's inspection system.

Unlike the previous inspection system, AFIS allows commanders to shift their focus from inspection readiness to mission readiness. The new system implemented the Unit Effectiveness Inspection (UEI), an inspection cycle spanning a course of 24 months. 

The UEI is a continual evaluation of performance throughout the inspection cycle -- a "photo album" versus a snapshot in time. Continual evaluation is validated and verified throughout the 24 month UEI cycle and is intended to help the wing commander understand the areas of greatest risk from undetected non-compliance. 

An on-site "Capstone" visit conducted by major command inspector generals and the Air Force Inspection Agency on wings concludes the two year UEI cycle.

For the first time, Nellis and Creech Air Force Bases experienced the culmination of all the hard work put forth during the 24 month UEI cycle with the 2015 UEI Capstone visit Nov. 1-7. The visit was the final event of the UEI and the catalyst for generating a UEI report.

During that seven-day period, 96 inspectors from Air Combat Command IG and AFIA evaluated the wing's compliance, readiness effectiveness, efficiency, and discipline.  To do so, they used the standards set forth in Air Force Instruction 90-201 and applicable AF and MAJCOM guidance through wing inspection team (WIT) validation, spot evaluation, and sampling performed on-site and remotely. 

Final grading was determined by a compilation of data from the last 24 months which was measured against the UEI's four Major Graded Areas (MGAs): managing resources, leading people, improving the unit, and executing the mission. MGAs represent key processes, procedures and requirements based on either public law, executive orders, directives or instructions. 

So how did the 99th Air Base Wing measure up? For starters, the Airmen-to-IG sessions yielded five main issues that were elevated for the secretary of the Air Force office's consideration. Those issues were: make Creech AFB a self-supported base;  posture 99th ABW air expeditionary taskings to match the mission of the operational wings they support; improve stewardship at the end of the fiscal year in regards to spending government funds; revamp officer promotion/evaluation process and provide clearer guidance on enlisted promotion/evaluation process; and, with increased constraints on manpower and no reduction in mission requirements, ensure Airmen are better equipped to accomplish their job upon departure from technical training.

AFIS focuses on mission readiness versus inspection readiness so we won't see the heavy emphasis on grade achievement that we've come to expect from past inspections. Still, the wing should be proud that we earned an "Effective" in all four MGAs, rendering an overall grade of "Effective". 

This means requirements in all mission areas were met and personnel were proficient; the CCIP provided the command chain an accurate, adequate and relevant picture of unit performance; resources were managed well; continuous process improvement efforts were evident; programs had few significant deficiencies; and effective management systems were present. It also means, as stated by inspectors, that we have room for improvement. 

According to Col. Richard Boutwell, 99th ABW commander, "Team Nellis did very well adjusting to and implementing the new process. I'm very proud of how our Airmen embraced the new program and worked diligently to improve the many processes within."

The UEI is a continual evaluation and begins immediately after the previous UEI report is signed. 

"The next UEI cycle has already begun, and we will use it to build upon what we learned from our first go-around. We will also use this time to make any adjustments to resources or priorities in order to continue accomplishing our mission and supporting our mission partners," Boutwell explained. "Our Airmen should come away with the understanding that the intent of this program is for them to know their job, know how their job supports our mission, and to do their job to the best of their ability each and every day." 

The key to CCIP is self-awareness; it is everyone's responsibility to inspect their areas of responsibility, detect any deficiencies or shortfalls, and then make adjustments to overcome. If the deficiency or shortfall cannot be corrected, then communicate to higher headquarters for assistance.