by Michael Golembesky
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
4/15/2014 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The
21st Space Wing was recently recognized by the Air Force Inspector
General as the first active duty or Reserve wing in the Air Force to
fully implement the Air Force Inspection System and become commander's
inspection program capable.
Leveraging an outstanding test bed effort on the part of U.S. Air Forces
in Europe units, the 21st Space Wing achieved this milestone in
February of this year.
"We worked aggressively on the implementation of this new system within
our wing," said Col. John Shaw, 21st Space Wing commander. "I am proud
of the accomplishments of the 21st Space Wing and our IG team and look
forward to improving our mission effectiveness through this inspection
The AFIS is focused on assessing and reporting on a unit's overall
readiness to execute their assigned missions. The assessments are
conducted regularly from within the organization, which is an adjustment
from the previous system of bi-annual inspections conducted by an
"The old system focused on an external team assessing our units. It
showed compliance at one given moment in time," said Shaw. "The AFIS is
focused on gauging the wing's ability to self-assess on a regular basis -
it is looking at what units have done to review, assess, and improve
their programs since their last inspection."
The system is seen as a much-improved process to the previous style of
inspections, especially with its emphasis on placing responsibility in
the hands of commanders and directors.
"This is proving to be fantastic; I am very excited that we are moving
in this direction," said L. J. Van Belkum, 21st Space Wing inspector
general. "The responsibility for conducting internal inspections is
acknowledged as a commander's role, which is what has always been true."
With inspection oversight being recognized as the unit commander's
responsibility, there is also increased information flow and more timely
corrective responses to issues on a regular basis. It ensures units are
mission and inspection ready at all times.
This constant self-assessment also helps Airmen within each unit as
well. Under the previous system, inspection preparation created a
bi-annual strain, which could interfere with an Airman's focus on the
"The frantic preparation was unsustainable. You can't maintain at that
speed and expect to stay mission ready and focused. Everyone was
exhausted by the end of our most recent Consolidated Unit Inspection;
the AFIS is designed to eliminate that," said Van Belkum. "Now instead
of just a snapshot of where our compliance is at one given moment, it's
more of a photo album spanning two years, looking at what units have
done to maintain their programs since their last inspection."
In order to aid in this constant self-assessment, the wing has created a strategic plan to execute the AFIS.
"Our plan leverages multiple ways of assessment and reporting over
time," Shaw added. "We have a rigorous two-year plan at squadron, group,
wing and external levels to achieve this plan."
Units will also use the Management Internal Control Toolset to help
streamline and create a more user-friendly process for maintaining and
reviewing records as needed.
"This is a far better system; we were one of the first wings to start
using MICT and we are looking forward to the way ahead," added Van
"While we know we don't have this AFIS 100 percent right, we are on a
good course to meet its intent of improving operations within the wing,"
said Shaw. "I know we have the right people armed with the plan and
tools needed to maintain this success and look forward to continued
development of the AFIS."