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Steady-state mission readiness

Posted 2/8/2013   Updated 2/8/2013 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Maj. Steven Schutt
42nd Air Base Wing inspector general

2/8/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. - -- Happy February! Let me start by saying thanks to all who have helped initiate this series of articles providing information and updates, as we prepare Team Maxwell for our consolidated unit inspection in September.

As noted in last month's commentary, the inspection system and the philosophy of inspecting have changed. And they changed dramatically. The emphasis of the new inspection process is on steady-state mission readiness; not preparing for an inspection every other year or so, but doing your job at a constantly high level focused on the mission.

So allow me to ask you this: Are you working at and maintaining a level of steady-state mission readiness? What does steady-state mission readiness mean to you? I'd like to believe we all have answers to this, because the inspectors general arriving in September will ask.

We can no longer operate in a sine wave of mission readiness. It simply isn't feasible, effective, efficient or necessary.

Quite honestly, riding the rollercoaster of inspection prep, then inspection, then post inspection lull wasted effort.

"A healthy organization requires correct application and management of time, skill sets and financial resources to achieve maximum benefit toward organizational standards and goals," said Master Sgt. Nathan A. McNeely, from the inspector general office at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., In essence, a healthy organization is one that uses all of its tools to be complaint 100 percent of the time. That should not be a surprise to any readers, as that is simply an extension of our core value: excellence in all we do.

So why is it now such a hot topic in the realm of inspections? As mentioned in the last commentary, the emphasis on inspections surpassed the quality of mission readiness. The focus incorrectly shifted from mission-ready to inspection-ready. That is the past. Now the emphasis is where it should have been from the start: being ready for an inspection at anytime because we do our job every day with 100 percent compliance and with excellence. That is what steady-state mission readiness means.

The obvious follow-on to that train of thought is how do we make sure we attain steady-state mission readiness? "We must make a concentrated effort to develop our Airmen by bringing back the culture of active management with compliance in mind," McNeely said. "We expect units to be their own toughest critics with independent scrutiny and complete objectivity regardless of the outcome. We require brutal honesty before we can formulate and implement a suitable corrective course of action. We must meet these expectations at all times and live up to our standards because it is the right and just way to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. We owe it to ourselves, our units and our Air Force to aim for excellence."

I began this commentary asking you, the reader, questions regarding steady-state mission readiness. I now ask you to ask those same questions to yourself, your peers, your supervisors, your leaders. Answer them honestly. Make sure you receive honest answers from your peers, your supervisors, your leaders. And let us all make sure we operate as we should, with complete focus on steady-state mission readiness. IGs arriving in September will see if we are.

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