Who are the Airmen in the blue vests? They ensure all Airmen are ready to fight

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Joseph Garcia
  • 509 Bomb Wing
United States Airmen gain experience and sharpen their skills through military exercises designed to prepare them to win the real fight, putting their attention to detail to the test.

But all tests must have an evaluator.

The Air Expeditionary Wing Plans and Programs shop (XP), the Inspector General (IG), and the Wing Inspection Team (WIT) are those evaluators. Together they plan and grade exercises to ensure that Airmen are mission ready, ready to deliver global strike anytime, anywhere.

XP plans and executes exercises, creating scenarios designed to test Airmen, mapping everything out months ahead of time. Technical Sergeant Katie South, 509th BW, Exercise, Plans, and Programs NCOIC said this crucial step determines the effectiveness of the training for Airmen.

“We look at what would happen here at Whiteman to make it realistic and feasible, giving the best training we can to our units so that they’re mission ready,” she said.

IG works alongside WIT members embedded within individual units to evaluate exercises to maximize their effectiveness. IG provides a framework to evaluate the test, and WIT members bring expertise in their functional areas.

“Our WIT are out during the exercise, inspecting Airmen’s performance and providing feedback,” said Captain Kalynn Mendez, 509th BW, inspection planner.

Teamwork within this training triad ensures Airmen meet training objectives and acquire necessary skills.

The partnership between XP, IG, and the WIT relies on synergy. Together, they ensure that units with widely different missions and skills sets have a way to test their readiness effectively and in an unbiased way, Mendez said.

“We come together as an IG, XP, and WIT team afterwards to discuss positives and negatives, that way we can learn for future exercises,” Mendez said.

This partnership is where new processes are developed, strengthening future exercises so that units are more ready for potential real-world threats anytime, anywhere.