Before this month’s UCI, the 35th Fighter Wing last underwent a Unit Compliance Inspection four years ago — before Sept. 11, 2001. Brig. Gen. Bill Rew, 35th Fighter Wing and Misawa base commander, moved to another assignment just before the inspection but was 35th Operations Group commander while the wing prepared for the intense scrutiny.

“We got an ‘excellent,’” he said of the wing’s overall grade then.

But it was a different way of life: The only significant deployments at the time were to Operation Southern Watch, involving just a small number of airplanes, Rew said. Now, “a lot of our shops are manned at 50, 60 percent. A lot of our more experienced people are gone.”

In PACAF, Misawa was one of the last bases to receive a UCI in the post-9/11 cycle, said Col. Jerry Siegel, Pacific Air Forces inspector general.

“While sometimes folks may be disappointed if they didn’t get ‘excellent’ or ‘outstanding,’ we fully recognize how busy everybody is, the ops tempo people are under,” he said. With many key people deployed, preparing to deploy or just returning from a deployment during a UCI, “the amount of resources the wing has to do all the Air Force … requires of them is clearly a bigger stress than it was” several years ago.

PACAF wings receive a UCI about every two Aerospace Expeditionary Force cycles — which equates to about every 40 months. South Korean units are inspected more frequently because personnel there are on one-year remote tours, Siegel noted.

While some might contend wings are too busy for a UCI, “I would argue that it’s even more important than ever in the post-9/11 world,” Siegel said. Having independent evaluators assess areas including whether people are properly trained and certified to do their jobs and equipment is maintained is even more important, Siegel said. It “can get commanders in trouble or people hurt because a wing’s so distracted by all that’s going on in the world.”

Siegel said the PACAF IG team was impressed by Misawa’s preparation and attitude for and during the UCI. Airmen on up to group commanders were “not only cooperative but very open to our inspectors coming in there. Across the board, we were very impressed with their dedication, morale, and work ethic.”

author picture
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.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now