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MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — The 35th Fighter Wing is gearing up for its most rigorous evaluation in more than three years.

The Operational Readiness Inspection is slated from March 12 to 18, when a team of least 50 inspectors representing Pacific Air Forces will test the wing to see if its airmen are ready for war.

For the inspection’s first half, the wing will be asked to demonstrate how efficiently it can deploy to a particular location, while the second phase involves employing combat capability, according to Maj. Darrell Thomas, chief of wing inspections.

“What we’re trying to do is demonstrate that we know how to do our job,” Thomas said. “We’ve studied for the test … now it’s time to go earn that ‘A.’”

No major basewide closures or interruptions in service are expected during the ORI.

However, some agencies, such as the legal office and military personnel flight may have reduced services.

“Get stuff done a little bit early,” Thomas advised. Otherwise, for family members and dependents, “the worst thing that’s going to happen to you is you’re probably not going to see your spouse for a while,” as airmen will be working 12 hours a day or more during the ORI.

After the wing’s last operational readiness exercise earlier this month, the wing is ready to improve on “the fog or friction of war” scenarios that get thrown into a typical inspection, Thomas said.

An exercise evaluator, for instance, may hand out cards that give airmen the stomach flu, put a bomb near a building, or change the threat condition, Thomas said.

“Things that add a little quick sand to your step, little speed bumps,” he said, “that they’ll put in our way to try to prevent us from doing our big picture job. Those are the little things that we need to polish up.”

To prepare for the ORI, airmen should continue to read their airmen’s manual and listen to guidance from their commanders. And during the ORI, they need to stay focused and not worry about over-communicating, Thomas said. “If you’re making an assumption — ‘I think that they might know that piece of information’ — assume they don’t know at the risk of having them hear it a third time.”

Perhaps most importantly, “get your head in the game,” Thomas said. “A strong sense of urgency is going to go a long way to demonstrating what we already know.”

Units that receive a marginal grade in the ORI will get a re-look from PACAF, Thomas said, meaning more work.

“I don’t think we’re in danger of that,” he added. “We’re doing a strong job. What I’m looking for us to do is that little bit extra that polishes up the wing and let’s us shine.”

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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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