Wing Reservist gets inside scoop on operational readiness inspection

By Sandra Pishner on January 7, 2012

Getting a man on the inside is usually the best way to gather intelligence for any operation. In this case, an operational readiness inspection, such as the one the 446th Airlift Wing will have in October.

Lt. Col. Ray Luevanos, 446th Mission Support Group deputy commander, along with a few other Reserve and active duty Airmen from McChord Field, got in on the ground floor for the ORIs conducted for Joint Base Charleston, S.C., as well as Dover AFB, Del.

Luevanos augmented the Air Mobility Command Inspector General team from Nov. 30 to Dec. 7.

Both Charleston and Dover ORI's were conducted in Gulfport, Miss., at the Gulfport Contingency Readiness Training Center. The CRTC is a Mississippi Air National Guard base with the primary mission of supporting Unit Compliance Inspections, Operational Readiness Exercises, and Operational Readiness Inspections.

Although his expertise is with the emergency operations center, Luevanos viewed many aspects of the inspections, and learned a great deal to help prepare McChord for its ORI in October.

"Attitude, sense of urgency, communication, and knowing your job are the essentials for a successful operational readiness inspection," said Luevanos. "That tidbit came from an inspector with long tenure on the AMC inspection team."

Both Charleston and Dover were working within a Korea scenario, according to Luevanos, operating out of Japan. Each was given a variety of missile attacks (chemical versus non-chemical) and each facility was required to bug-out once to demonstrate alternate location and command and control turnover. Other injects included food poisoning, water contamination, fuels contamination, contamination control area demonstration and a lone gunman/distraught airman. The distraught airman fired upon his own troops and this inject occurred after the "hostilities ceased" message was received from Intel.

Luevanos observed that Charleston initially lacked a sense of urgency.

"The first indication of this was their ineffectiveness at building sandbags for base hardening," he said.

Upon landing, the advance team is given full access to materials to harden facilities to include sandbags and a sandbag machine. The IG requires a demonstration of sandbag building and a hardening demonstration for grading purposes.

After the graded unit builds 1,500 sandbags, the IG releases an additional 6,500 pre-positioned sandbags for the unit to use for hardening. The Charleston day shift opted to wait until civil engineer members arrived on chalk 5 prior to beginning the building of sandbags, a delay of about 24 hours.

"Having only one 12-hour shift of CE operations personnel limited the time frame during which CE could build sandbags," said Luevanos. "Finally, they mobilized other units to begin building sandbags, but the night shift bore the brunt of the task."

An IG-recommended practice is to have arriving players from each chalk fill 10 to 20 sandbags each prior to receiving their room keys. Having leadership participate in the process was also recommended to display "leadership by example" and a sense of urgency.

Safety was also an issue during the employment phase. Airmen were observed leaving forklifts running without drivers or chalks, and backing without spotters, according to Luevanos.

Other observations to learn from, according to Luevanos' report concerning his trip, included:

One wing deployed without a water test kit which negated their ability to determine chlorine contamination (simulated) of a water buffalo.

Some Airmen neglected to change out M-8/M-9 paper following attacks. This resulted in confusion after a subsequent non-chemical attack which was interpreted to have chemicals because of prior M-8/M-9 contamination.

A unit misidentified one of its own life-support vans during an attack causing it to divert resources and time as the vehicle was searched for and investigated.

On the first day of Dover's ORI, a fuels tester was relieved of duty for improper duty certifications.

Know the CRTC policies. One wing's standardization and evaluation section was not aware weapons were not allowed in the dorm rooms. Consequently, they had to construct a makeshift armory which necessitated a "player" guard (not real world). This policy had been communicated weeks prior; however, this section was not aware of the restriction.

According to Luevanos, it is imperative that each unit reviews write-ups from the last McChord ORI. The IG's grading tool automatically loads past write-ups so inspectors may assess whether current write-ups are repeated from the last ORI.

And whatever you do, don't let your guard down at the end of active hostilities.

"Many of the graded areas occur after hostilities cease, especially for support agencies. The IG noted to both units that most accidents occur during the Redeployment phase because of a sense of 'get-home-it is,'" explained Luevanos.

To that end, if the IG notes complacency by the unit, they will delay the redeployment order (2-hour delay to Charleston) or add injects, such as an active shooter, to keep the players engaged. So it pays to not let your guard down.

"I highly encourage any ORI participants, especially leadership, to augment the IG team as inspectors if at all possible. Having full access to grading criteria and IG leadership discussions is invaluable to understanding the 'rules' behind the ORI 'game,'" said Luevanos.


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