NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — The 57th Wing, owner of Red Flag, Green Flag and the U.S. Air Force Weapons School’s Weapons Instructor Course “Integration,” will conduct its first exercise under the new Air Force inspection system June 30 to July 2.
The new Air Force inspection system delegates inspection responsibility to wing commanders. In this system, inspections and exercises fall under the purview of the recently established wing inspector general inspections division and are conducted by the wing inspection team.
According to Air Force Instruction 90-201, The Air Force Inspection System, “the commander’s inspection program gives the wing commander, subordinate commanders and wing Airmen the right information at the right time to assess risk, identify areas of improvement, determine root cause and precisely focus limited resources — all aligned with the commander’s priorities and on the commander’s timeline.”
Exercises are nothing new to the 57th WG. What is new to Nellis AFB is the need to practice Aerospace Control Alert, a mission delegated to the 57th WG and 99th Air Base Wing by the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center and the continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command region.
The 64th Aggressor Squadron, 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 57th Operations Support Squadron, 99th Security Forces Squadron and 99th ABW command post are the units tasked to meet this operational requirement.
“The capability we are exercising supports NORAD’s defense of the continental U.S. by responding to and mitigating airborne threats. These threats can range from a suspected hijacked aircraft, to foreign military aircraft or an attack such as 9/11,” said Tech. Sgt. Laura Langley, command post NCO in charge. “Our Airmen here have been afforded the opportunity to support this tasking under Operation Noble Eagle, which since Sept. 11, 2001, has continued to defend our borders.”
In the 57th WG, not all exercises will be run by the WIT. In fact, most units have conducted exercises for years to provide advanced, realistic and relevant training to visiting combat units and individuals Nellis AFB provides the infrastructure, collaboration opportunity, knowledge and experience to maximize learning and exposure to current and future threats. The difference between those training exercises and the upcoming ACA exercise is that those exercises are to improve other units’ combat capability, and this exercise is to improve the USAFWC, 57th WG, and 99th ABW capabilities.
AFIS is not simply the same old thing with a different acronym; it is a completely new approach. The greatest threat to its success is having the same old attitude about inspections and exercises.
The cornerstone of AFIS is self-assessment and is considered the engine of the wing commander’s inspection program. CCIP gives Airmen a voice about compliance; it gives them a means to showcase their work and also to let their supervisors know if they can’t do something. That means Airmen have to be forthright. It means processes have to be transparent. It means Airmen have to be bold enough to admit when things aren’t going the way they should. It underscores integrity first and precedes excellence in all we do.
When Nellis AFB Airmen act on core values with the courage, innovation and expertise the world has come to expect, they empower commanders to make better decisions. Commanders can make better decisions when Airmen are forthright because they act on reality rather than perception. AFIS therefore compels commanders to lead even better by fostering a unit climate that encourages self-assessment.
With the aptitude and candor of Nellis AFB Airmen in mind, what are the expectations for the ACA exercise? Will it go off without a hitch? Will it be lauded as another example of Nellis AFB excellence? We expect so. But the real prize is what we learn, and the best way to learn is to be honest with each other about performance.