LNSI success — teamwork maintains confidence

  • Published
  • By Maj. Kenneth Bottari
  • 509th Munitions Squadron commander
After Labor Day weekend, I returned to work to discover that we were about to receive yet another visit from the Air Combat Command Inspector General -- this time unannounced.

Strategic Air Command used to conduct "no notice" inspections, and I recall twenty years ago experiencing that - but they weren't really no-notice when I experienced them. We knew it would be close to the "normal" inspection cycle and you could guess when becoming "eligible" for a visit.

Regardless of how it used to be, no-notice inspections aren't supposed to happen anymore. But, since it did - there wasn't any other place I'd rather been than right here. Because I know the people of Team Whiteman perform this mission the right way every day.

So, how do you plan for a next day arrival? The easy answer is you dig up the schedule of events from last December's Joint Nuclear Surety Inspection and change the dates.

All the inspection areas were there and the schedule worked. We didn't want to call in folks from leave so we started looking at certifications to build teams for potential technical operations and started reviewing programs to ensure currency and compliance. Luckily, it was September, and the probability of 13 inches of snow falling on the base during another NSI was low.

But, this was different. The ACC IG had about as much notice as us that they were coming, and this was going to be a limited NSI.

What exactly did that mean? Well AFI 90-201 says that a limited NSI is for specific MAJCOM/CC focus areas, reinspection of previously graded area of unsatisfactory during and NSI, or to inspect a unit with a nuclear contingency mission before a deployment. So the IG could basically look at anything they wanted to inspect. And, we knew they were going to look hard.

We got another day to prepare due to the IG awaiting transportation, and the IG got another day to prepare their agenda. The focus was going to be weapon transfer processes and weapons accountability. We received the draft schedule of events and found that eight of the 12 inspection areas would be looked at and only two technical operations would be performed.

But, the loading/mating operation would include breakout and convoy operations through loading and aircrew acceptance. In other words, we'd be inspected on the generation exercise that we cancelled for the inspection, but with only one aircraft.

How'd we do it? Actually it was simple - Teamwork. Once again the professionals of Team Whiteman rolled up their sleeves to accept yet another challenge. Every unit on base was ready to lend their assistance in planning and then execution as necessary.

Operations, maintenance, munitions, security forces and vehicle maintenance teamed up the night before the IG arrived to plan a smooth running single aircraft generation exercise. Extended duty child care availability almost tripled the normally contracted capacity, and it was a Unit Training Activity weekend.

PRP was not going to be inspected, yet the 509th Medical Group and 509th Mission Support Squadron started to audit records and review unit programs just in case the inspection turned that way. This is just a small list of the efforts by so many.

It didn't matter if we'd been preparing for six months or the inspection was no-notice. All of Team Whiteman was motivated and ready to show we know how to perform our mission when called.

And perform we did. The IG selected the youngest and most inexperienced Airman they could find to perform each operation. I watched a flawless weapon preparation for shipment technical operation that included some of the youngest and newest members of the munitions squadron.

Weapons breakout and weapons convoy operation could not have been smoother. Weapons accountability and shipping records revealed no discrepancies. The IG was looking for a weak link and they could not find one at Whiteman.

The inspection report was a good report for a unit that prepared for six months - incredible for a unit with two days to prepare. The IG had some higher headquarters findings that they took away for the ACC staff to work.

There were some unit findings as expected, but most were categorized as minor. If there weren't, then they weren't looking! But the IG looked at us hard. Satisfactory is a passing grade for these inspections - yet, we received some excellent and outstanding grades in the final report.

Inspection results and scores like that only come from units that do the job right every day. You can't fake your way through an NSI and you definitely can't fool the IG on a no-notice inspection.

All involved should be proud of their accomplishment. If anyone questioned the 509th Bomb Wing's competence and ability in performing the nuclear mission, their confidence was restored with this inspection report.