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IG prepares Vandenberg for ORI

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Master Sgt. Andrew Colsch, an instructor for the Exercise Evaluation Team, shows Airmen how to check for breathing on a mock casualty during the North Star exercise here June 18. (U.S. Air Force photo / Senior Airman Christopher Hubenthal)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Master Sgt. Andrew Colsch, an instructor for the Exercise Evaluation Team, shows Airmen how to check for breathing on a mock casualty during the North Star exercise here June 18. EET and the 30th Space Wing Inspector General office work together to train Airmen through exercises such as North Star. (U.S. Air Force photo / Senior Airman Christopher Hubenthal)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Ah, those three little words: "Exercise! Exercise! Exercise!" 

It means the start of a recall or a disaster scenario or contingency. It also means that the 30th Space Wing's Inspector General office is once again testing the mettle of Team Vandenberg. 

While not every base has the Exercise Evaluation Team connected to the IG, that's the case here at Vandenberg. This means IG personnel must complete their daily mission - complaints resolution, fraud, waste and abuse investigations, and congressional inquiry - while putting together and executing exercise scenarios. 

"Our exercise activity has obviously increased as we approach the (Operational Readiness Inspection)," said Lt. Col. Patricia Peoples, 30th SW Inspector General. "We are balancing mission requirements, working long hours and doing our best to ensure the wing is inspection ready, just like every other person and unit on this base." 

While the rest of the base usually begins an exercise when they are recalled, IG and EET begin their portion about one week earlier. During meetings they go over scenarios and inputs to build an overall exercise script, based on the needs of each squadron. Some scripts are just several events targeted at various agencies. Other scripts are more integrated to provide the wing one overarching scenario. 

Even when the planning is done, the IG's work is not over. The day of the exercise is a long one for their team, as they come in before the rest of the base is recalled to begin the scenario. Once the ball is rolling, IG and EET members are posted around the base observing the actions of exercise participants. They could be anywhere, from the commander's senior staff or the Emergency Operations Cell to the site of an accident or on the deployment line. And then, when "Endex" is called and Team V winds down from another exercise, the IG and EET are meeting to discuss how well the base performed, as well as what they could do to better facilitate the exercise. 

"We want the wing to be ready for whatever scenarios (Air Force Space Command) IG throws at us in September," Colonel Peoples said. "However, more importantly, this base needs to be ready to react to any emergency or disaster." 

That's why the scenarios cover such a broad spectrum - from terrorist activity to natural disasters to mass casualty accidents. 

"Our ability to respond effectively can mitigate the disaster, save lives and ensure mission accomplishment," the colonel said. 

All of those things are important to the warrior mentality, and that is why exercises are not just prep for an ORI. In fact, with the new IG No-Notice Focus Inspections in AFSPC, there are no longer any non-inspection years. AFSPC IG can and will inspect any function on any base without any notice. Inspectors can show up at the visitors' center and request access to any part of the base. Large inspections, such as an ORI, can be done with as little as two weeks' notice. 

"As you can see, exercises after September's ORI will be just as important as the exercises we are doing now," Colonel Peoples said.

But first things first, and Vandenberg is working hard to prepare for the upcoming ORI. Longer hours and action-packed days may be tough at times, but everyone must do their part.

"Know your jobs inside and out, work as a team with other agencies, stay alert to exercise inputs (suspicious packages, phishing), and be enthusiastic," Colonel Peoples said. "This is a challenging time for Vandenberg, but the hard work will pay dividends when AFSPC IG arrives."