Inspectors descend on 48th Fighter Wing
RAF LAKENHEATH, England — Members of the 48th Fighter Wing are under the gun.
They’re in the midst of two major inspections.
More than 160 inspectors arrived this week to perform the U.S. Air Forces Europe Inspector General Surety Inspection and a Unit Compliance Inspection.
“It’s a high-pressure situation because you have somebody who is coming from outside looking at how you perform,” said Lt. Col. Kevin McElroy, chief of wing readiness at Lakenheath. “They’re going to tell you what they think of your performance.”
Capt. Brandy Falk of the wing’s Office of the Judge Advocate said her group was inspected on Monday.
“Stress? Yes,” she said. “It’s definitely a necessary thing, a good thing, but a lot of work goes into it.”
The inspections measure if the airmen are following Department of Defense and Air Force regulations and local laws.
“We’ll try to identify the root causes for why there was unsatisfactory performance,” McElroy said. “We’d try to derive solutions to rectify those deficiencies. There might be a reinspection.”
In his recent town hall meeting, Brig. Gen. Mark T. Matthews, commander of the 48th Fighter Wing, told the airmen and family members present to “hang in there.”
McElroy said the airmen at Lakenheath have been getting ready. He acknowledged it’s strenuous for airmen to go through inspections while doing their other jobs. Falk, for example, has two courts-martial to try this week.
“They understand the pressure that’s involved,” McElroy said. “They understand it’s part of the mission. From what I’ve seen across the wing, they’re rising to the occasion.
“It’s human nature that pressure brings out the worst and best. Here at Lakenheath, it certainly brings out the best in everyone,” he added.
The surety inspection occurs once every 18 months, McElroy said. The compliance inspection comes once every three to five years.
Though he’s not part of the Lakenheath inspection, Master Sgt. Scott Currie has been through this before. Currie, superintendent of the wing inspections office at Aviano Air Base, Italy, said Lakenheath is facing a tough two weeks.
“It’s a double whammy,” Currie said.
“The good thing is you get it done,” he said. “You have a thorough look at programs and processes, identify problem areas and strengths, and fix things quickly. It also gives their wing leadership an objective idea of where they stand.”
Currie said airmen try to be harder on themselves than the inspectors would be. He said if the younger officers do their jobs by the book and with a good attitude, they should be fine.
“They may be put on stage to demonstrate process or tasks for the inspection team to evaluate,” Currie said. “It’s their chance to shine.”
More than 20 squadrons at Lakenheath are being checked, as well as 12 staff agencies. The inspections will last through Nov. 17.
McElroy said wing members are “warily confident” that the inspections will go well. He said there won’t be a big party when the inspectors finish.
“The mission continues — as soon as we’re done with that there’s something next on the plate,” McElroy said.
Then, he admitted, “there’ll certainly be a sigh of relief when they leave.”