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The Air Force Inspection System: ‘Embrace the red’

By Master Sgt. Christopher G. Dion | 502nd Air Base Wing Inspector General | Oct. 5, 2017


Many of us who have been in the military for a few years remember the days of the past when the image of the inspector and the inspection he or she conducted evoked a sense of fear and loathing.


Airmen viewed the inspector as a person with a black hat and a quota. In order to get through the inspection, we would clean, polish, or paint over any imperfection in hope that inspectors would over-look the deficient areas.


If an inspector found a deficiency, it could mean a bad performance report or losing a coveted job. It didn’t matter if the lack of funding, manpower or mission-priorities caused the deficiency. This system led to a two-method military.


There was the day-to-day way of doing things and then there was the inspection way. All of this resulted in high levels of stress, inefficiency, and hiding problems.


Today there is AFIS, the Air Force Inspection System.


This new system places more control and responsibility in the hands of the squadron, group and wing commander and places the weight of inspections on the Wing Inspector General.


Discovery of deficient areas is encouraged at the lowest level possible in order to address and fix problems rather than hide them. Commanders have the capability to accept risk, within certain legal limitations, in order to focus more on mission accomplishment and less on strict compliance.


This also enables the commanders at higher levels to be fully aware of any non-compliance as well as the reason for the non-compliance and what countermeasures are in place to mitigate the risks associated with non-compliance.


The wing commander, through this awareness provided by AFIS, has a much more current and relevant picture of the true state of their wing. They have the ability to initiate an IG-led inspection utilizing the Commander’s Inspection Program.


Group and squadron commanders, utilize their Self-Assessment Program to uncover undetected non-compliance with their unit. Unit commanders may also request an IG review at any time.


The IG provides the wing commander a quarterly update on the readiness of their wing through the Commanders Inspection Management Board wherein wing leaders discuss key performance indicators and determine countermeasures for lagging areas.


All of this enables the Air Force to better deal with its issues and take advantage of its strengths. It enables change and correction to happen more quickly, making the Air Force more dynamic and responsive.


Finally, the new AFIS improves morale at the lowest level by showing our Airmen that issues in their units that affect them are and will be dealt with rather than ignored.


The key to all of this is that every Airman is a sensor. We now follow a simple philosophy of Embrace the Red.

Embrace the Red for it reveals our weakness and enables us to fix it before it hurts us. Embrace the Red so that we acknowledge non-compliance, and the reason for the non-compliance is identified and elevated, rather than hidden, which presents an image of dishonesty to those who have entrusted us.

Embrace the Red to empower leaders at the lowest levels with the ability to lead and be responsive. Embrace the Red so that we do not over stress our Airmen and strain our combat effectiveness. Embrace the Red to eliminate fraud, waste, and abuse and encourage ingenuity.

Embrace the Red to make us a better blue!