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Utah ANG tests their wartime skills during recent ORI

Gulfport, Miss. -- Although the Air Force is heavily engaged in the Global War on Terrorism, Operational Readiness Inspections are still taking place to test the service and its components on their wartime capabilities.

The Utah Air National Guard is no exception.

From Jan. 27 to Feb. 1, approximately 700 Airmen from the 151st Air Refueling Wing, Utah ANG; the 171st ARW, Pennsylvania ANG; and the 85th Aerial Port Squadron, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., deployed to the Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center, Miss., to participate in a combined ORI.

"The 151st has not participated in an ORI as a whole wing in more than 11 years," said Col. Kelvin Findlay, 151st commander. "Many of our Airmen have never actually gone through an official inspection, so I'm very proud of all the hard work and dedication that went into preparing for this."

As Airmen filled sandbags, donned chemical gear and performed their job duties during the ORI, Air Mobility Command inspectors sporting black hats mingled and inspected their performance.

"There are four major graded areas in an ORI: the initial response period (generating airplanes, processing people and cargo, etc.), employment, mission support and the Ability to Survive and Operate," said Mr. Bill Bergen, branch chief of Scheduling and Resource Management, AMC Inspector General's Office. "These four areas, along with the performance of the lowest-level Unit Type Codes, are combined to come up with a wing grade."

Although the ANG is constantly participating in worldwide Air Expeditionary Force deployments, Air Force leaders believe ORIs are important because they tests units on demonstrating capabilities that aren't performed on a day-to-day-basis or on AEFs.

"Generals are not worried about whether wings can deploy or redeploy for a planned AEF ... they're worried about going to war in a 36-hour time frame or deploying to a short-notice contingency," said Bergen. "Over 30 percent of Air Force units did not receive a "satisfactory" grade or higher on their ATSO last year ... and that is a capability we may need for the next contingency."

Regardless of the statistics, Findlay is certain of the wing's success.

"Our Airmen are continuously deploying all over the world and perform their mission superbly," he said. "I'm confident in our abilities to do the wartime mission and look forward to hearing the results of the inspection on Feb. 14."

AMC inspects about 20 Air Force units each fiscal year, and approximately eight of those are ANG. Guard units are typically inspected every five years and are graded the same as Reserve and active-duty units.

"Unlike some of the other services, the IG uses the same criteria to inspect all units," said Bergen. There is no special standard, even for wings that are mostly comprised of traditional Guardsmen. We treat everyone the same."

Bergen followed up: "If you were the chief of staff of the Air Force, you wouldn't want it any other way."