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Stellar Performance! 171st Air Refueling Wing Inspected for Unit Effectiveness

Graphic for Stellar Performance News Article showing IG member inspecting.

A member of the 171st Air Refueling Wing Inspector General team mock inspects an office space April 15, 2021, near Pittsburgh. This graphic illustration supports the article "Stellar Performance! 171st ARW Inspected for Unit Effectiveness". (U.S. Air National Guard graphic illustration by Staff Sgt. Zoe M. Wockenfuss).

CORAOPOLIS, Pa. --

The 171st Air Refueling Wing recently welcomed inspectors to the base as a part of the Unit Effectiveness Inspection on March 13-17, 2021.

The UEI is a component of the Air Force’s resourcefulness for continuous self-assessment. The inspection focuses on four major graded areas: executing the mission, managing resources, improving the unit, and leading people. The 171st was recognized for stellar performance by the Air Mobility Command earning six inspector general coins, 25 team awards, and 12 individual awards.

“The UEI results are in, and they confirm what Col. Hyland, Chief Wiley, and I already knew – we excel at performing our mission, developing airmen, and upholding readiness. Our members’ professionalism and attention to detail have helped make us one of the best units in the Air National Guard! Thank you for all you have done, and continue to do, for our commonwealth and our nation,” said Col. Mark Goodwill, former commander of the 171st ARW and current Chief of Staff for the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.

Lt. Col. Gary McCullough, along with the wing inspector general’s office, coordinates and develops annual wing inspections and readiness exercises to help improve and maintain the unit’s overall ability to operate and respond to a variety of activities. Some of these exercises include emergency management, public health responses and the ability to survive and operate under attack.

“It’s definitely a system of check and balances,” said McCullough, the inspector general of the 171st ARW. “We’re all on the same team trying to help each other like a second set of eyes.”

The base’s inspector general’s office is responsible for conducting at least seven by-law inspections and 10 exercises annually for the wing. They are also responsible for multiple inspections within each individual squadron.

“We tailor the inspections and exercises to our current mission set at the 171st ARW,” said McCullough.

Previously, there were more inspections on installations where outside inspectors would visit at different intervals, inspecting for that specific timeframe. The current inspection system allows for greater frequency of information collection and more opportunity to detect and diffuse issues with compliance allowing for more of a continuous improvement process.

“This is the new way forward. It really comes down to doing your job and doing it well,” said McCullough.

Inspectors from the Air Combat Command Inspector General’s office physically visit the installation every 48 to 60 months, but they are virtually inspecting the base’s performance during set benchmarks during that timeframe ensuring units are mission ready, efficient, compliant, and continually improving.

“My role is to manage, administer, plan and execute the wing commander’s inspection program. Therefore, the IG staff helps everyone prepare for the UEI from start to finish,” said McCullough.

While the wing inspector general’s office coordinates many of the inspection functions, they are not alone in the process. They have help from experienced guardsmen. These individuals form the Wing Inspection Team. The WIT augments the inspector general’s office by helping perform inspections. These individuals are subject matter experts within their career field who provide guidance to the inspector general on what evidence of compliance looks like.

“You need a strong motivated WIT. The WIT plays a critical role in the inspection process,” said McCullough.

When a deficiency is discovered in a work section, a corrective action plan is developed to help fix the problem. While the point of an inspection is inherently compliance versus noncompliance, the inspector general’s team looks for stellar performers too and acknowledges both individual performance and entire teams of people.

“The UEI will only help to make us better. The inspectors that come to us get to visit all bases. They have resources and information that can help us become even better, and we can incorporate their ideas onto our base,” said McCullough.

Inspection programs and teams like the inspector general’s office and WIT continue to help the 171st remain dedicated to its commitment to readiness and excellence.