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OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Airmen broke into loud cheering at Kunsan Air Base on Wednesday night after their commanding officer announced a surprise day off for doing well in a recent Pacific Air Forces inspection, officials said Thursday.

Just one day before, the base’s 8th Fighter Wing received an overall rating of high-satisfactory after a team of PACAF inspectors put it through an intensive, four-day, unit compliance inspection, or UCI.

The inspection ran Feb. 17-21. Inspectors briefed the wing on the results Tuesday.

Possible ratings are outstanding, excellent, satisfactory, unsatisfactory or marginal.

The wing, known as the Wolf Pack, is based on South Korea’s west coast. Its previous rating was a low-satisfactory in April 2002.

During a UCI, inspectors fan out across an installation and look closely at whether a unit is following policies and directives of the Department of Defense, the Air Force and PACAF. They delve into the fine points of how the unit handles its paperwork, equipment and people, along a spectrum of categories — the quality of unit training programs, bookkeeping practices and fire safety, among others.

“The inspectors were not pushovers,” said 1st Lt. Herb McConnell, an 8th Fighter Wing spokesman. “This was not an easy crowd to please, so for them to see us at such a better level of operating than two years ago is … just something to be proud of.”

A UCI report details unit strengths and shortcomings, and helps commanders gauge what’s working well and what needs fixing.

“They grade us essentially on what they call ‘mission performance checklist,’” said Senior Master Sgt. Mike Ehnert, of the 8th Fighter Wing inspector general’s office. “It’s essentially a ‘yes? — no?, do you do this or don’t you do this?’”

“We had ratings from everything from satisfactory to outstanding throughout the wing,” Ehnert said. “Nothing was rated less than satisfactory.”

Wing airmen worked for months to prepare for the inspection.

“It was very stressful,” said Staff Sgt. Rebecca Hardenburgh, an F-16 avionics craftsman with the wing’s 35th Aircraft Maintenance Unit.

The airmen in her section “had a lot of work to catch up to, to make sure all of our programs were up to speed," she said.

“It’s just five months of preparing,” Hardenburgh said. “It just felt good when it was over … I was happy ’ cause we worked really hard, as a whole wing, to accomplish that.”

Col. Robin Rand, 8th Fighter Wing commander, threw the troops a party with live music Wednesday night at the on-base Loring Club, McConnell said.

Then Rand — who, as Wolf Pack commander, by wing tradition is respectfully called “The Wolf” — got up to speak.

“The Wolf stood up and … gave everyone an order: ‘Wolf Pack, tomorrow you will stand down,’ and after that,” McConnell said, “everyone just exploded.”


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