Inspections 101: How to tell them apart

  • Published
  • By Capt. Josh Markland
  • 341st Space Wing
It's almost the start of summer and the teasing sensation of warm weather here in Montana is sneaking up on us. Many of you are probably thinking, "It's time to do some barbecuing, take a boating or hiking trip, or just relax out on the porch." 

There will be time for that, but first ... its inspection time. It may seem like we always have, or are preparing for, some kind of inspection and you're right, it's a never-ending process. 

Now it's time for a little Inspection 101 on what a Nuclear Surety Inspection entails and what the differences are between a Unit Compliance Inspection and an Operational Readiness Inspection. Each inspection is designed to observe different aspects of our profession. By understanding the different types of inspections, you have a better idea of what to prepare for. 

Nuclear Surety Inspections are specific to nuclear-capable units and evaluate a unit's capability to manage nuclear resources and are specifically designed to measure all functional areas and operations related to a unit's nuclear mission. 

Some of the areas inspected include: management and administration, technical operations, storage and maintenance facilities, security, safety, logistics and the personnel reliability program, which is the cornerstone of allowing individuals to perform their nuclear mission. Essentially, NSIs are used to measure our ability to manage our specific nuclear mission. 

Compliance Inspections assess whether organizations are complying with national laws and DoD and Air Force directives, and evaluates mission areas deemed critical by senior leaders. According to Attachment 6 in AFI 90-201, AFSPCSUP1, Inspector General Activities, a CI will measure, "key processes, procedures and requirements based on by-law requirements, executive orders, DoD directives and Air Force, MAJCOM ... instructions." 

What this means is inspectors will be looking at key areas within the CI. First, inspectors will be evaluating compliance with legal directives, which are legal mandates we must follow such as operating a the Voting Assistance Program, Transition Assistance Program, and Sexual Harassment Education and Prevention. Second, inspectors will evaluate 14 mission areas, which include but are not limited to: logistics, contracting, munitions, civil engineering, safety, services and personnel. Lastly, special interest items "provide a means to focus management attention, gather data and evaluate the status of specific programs and conditions in the field." CIs are graded on a three-level scale, with units either being In Compliance, In Compliance With Comments or Not In Compliance. 

At the unit level, a CI is like a massive self inspection. Inspectors will use the same AFSPC checklists as you use for your self-inspection programs. This is why it is vitally important that you thoroughly go over your self-inspection programs. 

Operational Readiness Inspections consist of two phases. Phase I measures a unit's readiness from a peacetime to wartime posture and their ability to execute its day-to-day mission. Phase II measures a unit's ability to prepare and deploy for war, as well as the ability to perform while deployed. Essentially, inspectors will be evaluating how we all perform our assigned operational mission at Malmstrom. 

An NSI evaluates how we manage our nuclear resources while adhering to the highest of standards; a CI appraises our administrative procedures and how we legally comply with DoD and Air Force directives; while an ORI measures our specific war fighting capabilities as we transfer from peacetime to wartime readiness. 

The bottom line is that during our upcoming NSI and CI inspections in June, you can expect the inspectors to measure our capability to execute our mission and to ensure we are in compliance with legal directives during our day-to-day operations. 

Team Malmstrom Warriors must continue to demonstrate they're always ready and extremely proficient in the execution of their assigned missions. These inspections are an official barometer of how well we perform our daily jobs.