Inspector General, Wing Inspection Team maintains installation readiness, compliance
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam – The sound of police sirens fills the air, ambulances race towards the scene as panicking people, run in every direction, to escape the disaster. This chaos may seem reminiscent to a scene from an action movie, but it really is a massive accident response exercise.
The developing event was not created for the sake of causing chaos, but to measure how effectively Airmen handle a crisis. In order to implement such a hectic event, months of planning takes place between the 36th Wing Inspector General office and key stakeholders.
“The IG is the facilitator for an exercise,” said Master Sgt. Ronnie Lawson 36th WG IG superintendent. “We conduct these exercises to test our capabilities and ensure, when a real-world event takes place, we are ready and able execute whatever mission is given to us.”
An exercise is the employment of military resources to test the capabilities of multiple units and measure how effectively they work together to achieve an objective.
Before an exercise can be conducted, there needs to be a proposed idea on which an organization needs to assess. Once the idea is set in place, it is turned into a full-scale military operation. However, a task so large cannot be handled by the IG alone, which is why they employ the help of the Wing Inspection Team.
“We’ve asked commanders to appoint some of their most experienced subject matter experts to come and help facilitate our exercises,” Lawson said. “Utilizing knowledge within their career field, they will find what aspects of their job to exercise and present them during our planning conferences.”
The IG is a small team consisting of Airmen from just a few career fields, which is why having WIT members from every unit is essential. The WIT, consisting of more than 160 Airmen, provides their expertise to the IG to ensure an exercise is as robust as possible.
One organization that is heavily involved in all exercises on Andersen AFB is the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management.
“The EM role in exercise planning plays directly into the wing's real-world incident planning,” said Tech. Sgt. Adam Hills, 36th CES EM plans and programs NCO in charge. “As we work with the wing and IG to create the most realistic exercises possible, we provide perspective on real-world planning factors such as historical references, current threat and realistic response capabilities.”
Not only is Hills a fundamental part of the EM team, but he also wears a second hat as the WIT for his unit. As a WIT member, he measures how his unit performs their mission.
“Before an exercise, the IG calls me in to help create a foundational scenario for the pending exercise to ensure that the exercise meets Federal Emergency Management Agency and National Incident Management System standards,” Hills said. “I develop desired learning objectives to express that uniform standard and evaluate against them.”
When an exercise kicks off, Hills and all WIT members across Andersen AFB assess their unit on the desired learning objectives they presented to the IG during their many meetings.
“After the exercise, I consolidate any findings, recommended improvement areas or deficiencies, and submit them to the IG to be added in their report,” Hills said. “Once all of the WITs submit their results, a post-exercise "hot-wash" is conducted to assist in scrubbing all the findings across the wing. This process eliminates invalid findings, duplicate findings and consolidates similar findings before IG compiles a final report for the commander.”
Good or bad, the results go a long way in measuring the Wing’s effectiveness. The synergy between the IG and WIT contributes to assuring mission success.
“Exercises, when executed as planned, are very beneficial to the 36th Wing mission. This installation is so incredibly busy that if we didn't exercise on a regular basis, the base populace would make incident management considerations less and less in their daily routines,” Hills said. “Exercises are based on incidents that have happened before and could potentially happen again. To that end, the installation's response to such crisis situations should not be the first time anyone executes their disaster response mission.”