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Gearing up for the ‘big game’

  • Published
  • By Col. Robert Rocco
  • 6th Medical Group commander
Recently, one of the world-class airmen I serve with at the MacDill clinic asked me what a Consolidated Unit Inspection feels like when the inspectors are on base. After sharing my thoughts, I saw it as an opportunity to share similar thoughts with my teammates outside the walls of the clinic. It is football season, so I thought I'd put it in football terms.

First off, it is an exciting time -- not unlike the feeling you get before a big game. All the preparation is over and it is time for excellence validation provided to us from subject-matter experts. Instead of analysts breaking down our ability to execute our "Xs and 0s" they'll want to see how we handle our Air Force Instructions!

Many of you experiencing this for the first time may get nervous around the inspectors. Try not to. They are Airmen, just like you. They want us to be successful and are here to validate positive expectations not try and bait us into mistakes. I once heard Peyton Manning, two time Superbowl-winning Quarterback Eli Manning's brother, says that nervous is what happens when you don't know what you're doing. Toward that end, if during the next few months you find yourself becoming nervous about our inspections, talk to your teammates about the reason why. Understand the areas you may need to brush up on and practice how you'll respond if asked to answer a question or demonstrate a capability. Football players practice -- so do we; it's called training and we do it every day!

Good news -- it's all an open-book test. What does that mean? Ever see a football player checking his wrist for plays? It's just like that. You too can review your section "playbook" for all the answers. Go ahead and put all of your notes, AFIs, and local policies into a tabbed guide or on a disk. When an inspector asks you to show them the reason (like a telecaster on Monday Night Football). Sure they may ask you to elaborate, but if you have the answers right there and understand them, heck, you'll have won the game even before the coin toss.

OK teammates, I'm sure one of you is wondering, "what if I make a mistake?" Well, they happen, the key is not to panic. Inspectors understand and appreciate it when we say, "I'm not sure, let me research that and get the correct answer."

Don't try and tap dance your way around a problem; confront it, ask for help, find the right answer and report back. Simple.

With football season here, I know about penalties... some are 5-yarders and some are 10-yarders. What are the 15-yarders -- the big mistakes we most want to avoid?

- Safety - OK, in football, a safety is two points. For us, a safety violation can cost us combat capability, a jet, an ambulance, or worse, a teammate! Some of our fellow Airmen may allow themselves to think that during an inspection, we can slack off on safety. Not true; remember what I shared about this being an "open book test?" Safety is a big part of that open book -- especially on, near, and around the flight line, in the clinic, in our office or when first responding. Safety is important, everywhere.

- Security - If we don't protect the ball, it could cause a turnover and possibly lose the game. If we don't practice good operational, communication or computer security, then we run the risk of losing much more.

- Communication - At half time, good teams make adjustments. They discuss lessons learned and adjust course so that they can execute better in the second half. We can do the same. If your squadron is looked at hard on day one, share with the rest of us what you learned. Inspectors notice when teams make adjustments (all good teams do) and will appreciate the effort. A well-timed adjustment is better than a 15-yard penalty any day.

Finally, it's all about readiness. My friend Col. Matt Molineux reminds us often that the reason we have inspections is not only to ensure we know what we are doing, but to demonstrate our capability to quickly, safely and effectively carry out the important business of Airpower! Being the finest Air Mobility Wing on the face of the planet is personal - proving it to an inspector demonstrates to our Air Force that when the time comes, the 6th Air Mobility Wing will be ready, willing and able to Fly, Fight and Win. Like the football team that demonstrates a giant effort to win, we too will appreciate our giant effort when we win this November.

Go get'em team... our championship is almost here!