A lesson in core values

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Heads were rolling. I had just finished several months of training and arrived at my first duty location, excited and ready to go to work training the Air Force's newest pilots. 

I was a FAIP, first assignment instructor pilot, in the T-38 Talon. It was a Monday morning and there was a commander's call first thing in the morning. There was a lot of angst among the unit instructor pilots. The unit had just busted a major headquarters inspection the week prior and we had a new squadron and group commander. 

I did not know what had happened or why, but soon found out. Leadership and supervision had lost sight of the core values. The unit had done little inspection preparation. 

Just prior to the inspection leadership and supervision read previous and other base inspection reports and identified similar shortcomings in their unit. Then to make matters worse some supervisors attempted to cover up or "fix" perceived short comings by changing documents and records--lack of integrity.

I did not understand how much involvement supervisors or commanders had at the time, but they were held accountable for the misdeeds under their command. Needless to say, a lack of integrity on the part of a few caused severe repercussions and a black eye for all. 

The next several months might be characterized as less than pleasant as the unit got back to basics and received additional oversight. As a whole the unit had become comfortable with shooting from the hip and not referencing governing directives--lack of excellence. They were not performing on a daily basis they way they were expected to during an inspection. 

As the squadron culture changed to a more professional and rigorous tempo, morale improved and we passed the re-inspection. What did I learn? 

Air Force core values must be embraced by everyone and, you have heard it before, "train like you're going to fight." The two go hand in hand. Weather it is combat or inspections, our personnel/unit character and performance will default to the way we have trained and executed our mission on a daily basis. 

There are many "war stories" about how units have failed and there are lessons learned in each story. I believe in most cases it can be traced back to preparation. Units that don't execute core values on a daily basis will have difficulty with the pressures of an inspection. 

The Iceman Team will have an Operational Readiness Inspection in just 10 short months. How well are you prepared? Do you strive for excellence every day for yourself, your peers, and subordinates? Do we have the courage and strength to identify our weak areas and make real improvements? 

Here are a couple of tips to help prepare for the ORI:

Read past and other base ORI reports now! Electronic word search makes it easy to search for your areas of responsibilities. 

Understanding inspections areas and personnel/unit weaknesses now give us the best opportunity to correct and prepare for the inspection. 

Are you ready to maximize our training opportunities? We only get to practice the full spectrum of our integrated wartime skills during exercises; everyone should be present and prepared for scheduled exercises. 

Visit the IG SharePoint site for a complete list of exercise reports and exercise calendar.