MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — It’s a checklist that would do a NASA shuttle launch team proud, going 15,000 items deep.

And that’s just for the maintenance group.

The 35th Fighter Wing here is preparing for the paperwork-intensive Unit Compliance Inspection.

From Feb. 28 to March 4, about 115 inspectors from the Pacific Air Forces Inspector General’s office will visit job sites to interview commanders, airmen and civilians about policies, procedures and requirements.

They’ll observe DOD employees at work in 15 squadrons and the wing’s staff agencies, examining the quality of unit training programs, fire safety and other practices.

The wing must demonstrate compliance with laws, Defense Department directives, Air Force Instruction and other requirements that govern day-to-day operations.

The inspectors “look at how we’re in compliance with those and how our processes support those,” said Maj. Mike Frey, 35th Fighter Wing inspector general. “This is our wing’s report card for the next four years.”

PACAF wings undergo a UCI about every 40 to 45 months, Frey said. It provides PACAF and the Air Force “with a credible, independent assessment of readiness and wing efficiency,” said Master Sgt. Daniel Snelgrow, the wing’s superintendent of maintenance group inspections, in a written statement. “The UCI, along with a host of other inspections, provides a check-and-balance process within the Air Force.”

Other UCI items to be scrutinized include Air Force and PACAF programs, such as fitness, voting assistance and sexual harassment education and prevention. The 35th Fighter Wing inspector general’s office maintains a computer database of each squadron’s checklist so units can update their progress online, reducing paperwork and enabling commanders to keep tabs on the process easily, Frey noted.

“It’s a lot of work over the last year, especially with all the things on our plate,” Frey said, to include exercises, deployments and tsunami relief efforts.

Preparation for the UCI began a year ago, and units are stepping it up. The post office recently started closing on Thursdays to prepare for the inspection; the civilian personnel flight doesn’t take customer calls Thursday for the same reason. Every Friday, the 35th Fighter Wing’s plans, programs and inspections office updates in the base newspaper how many days are left until UCI along with a preparation tip or reference to an important policy or instruction.

Units now are performing self-inspections, Frey said, adding, “We’re taking extra time as it gets closer.”

The wing’s inspector general’s office plans to practice a reception of the PACAF IG team next week and “take a cursory look” at how base units are coming along with UCI preparation.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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