Ready, set, compliant, go

  • Published
  • By Col. Scott T. Fike
  • 86th Maintenance Group commander
What exactly does it mean to be really ready?

We are routinely afforded opportunities to demonstrate our readiness to external visiting higher headquarters inspection teams.

One key measurement of an organization's readiness is its ability to demonstrate compliance. An important question we should ask ourselves with respect to compliance is, "Are we really compliant every day or are we just-in-time compliant for HHQ inspection teams?" Given what we are called to do, whether at home or abroad, and what is at stake, it is incumbent that we are really compliant-ready -- every day.

When the external HHQ inspectors come our way, our attitude should and can be one of "Bring it, we welcome it, come check us out!" Having said that, maintaining a 24/7/365 compliant-ready posture is a challenging and potentially exhausting endeavor, requiring all of us to be "always on."

Most, if not all Airmen, in whatever functional community they reside, experience some type of HHQ functional inspection in addition to the universal Operational Readiness Inspections, Unit Compliance Inspections, etc.

In more than three weeks, the 86th Maintenance Group and the Logistics Readiness Group will undergo a Joint Air Mobility Command and U.S. Air Forces in Europe Logistics Compliance Assessment Program HHQ inspection. During a one-week period, both groups will experience an intense and microscopic examination of its logistics compliance culture. Both group's professional Airmen have diligently prepared and are ready to showcase their compliant talent, skill and culture to those desiring to validate 86th MXG and LRG compliance.

Within the 86th Maintenance Group, there is a vibrant culture of compliance mindset. The flagship MXG section specifically charted to ensure a 24/7 compliance posture is the Quality Assurance Flight.

Led by Senior Master Sgt. Michael Tesch, a cadre of 12 dedicated maintainers routinely conduct over-the-shoulder and follow-up inspections related to aircraft maintenance, support equipment and other behind-the-scenes maintenance activities. A subset element of the QA Flight is the Maintenance Group's compliance cell. Comprising four compliance-focused Airmen, the Compliance cell performs recurring inspections covering multitudes of programs and focus areas around the annual-perpetual clock.

Additionally, the group's squadrons have implemented their own compliance-based programs. The Aircraft Maintenance Squadron's Stripes-on-the-Line/Active Sensing and the Maintenance Squadron's Senior Leaders Aiding Maintainers Inspections are both approaches wherein senior and seasoned maintainers conduct compliance inspections above and beyond that of the QA and compliance cell sections.

Of course, the 86th MXG is not the only organization with compliance-culture programs and mindset. All 86th Airlift Wing units have some form of self inspection programs at their disposal. Of note, there has been and remains a great compliance teamwork effort between various Team Ramstein organizations such as the 86th MXG, LRG and AMC's 721st Air Mobility Operations Group. These units have assisted each other with programs development and have inspected each other via local SAV-type assists.

The MXG's sister logistics group partners, the 86th LRG, have likewise been engaged in an intense and methodical compliance-culture approach. As recently as January, the LRG stood up a formal quality assurance program among other initiatives. So when it comes to an LCAP inspection, the 86th MXG and 86th LRG can confidently say, "Bring it!"

Why such confidence? It is Airmen like Tech. Sgt. Catherine Cooper and Master Sgt. William Jennings who make it easy for supervisors and commanders to feel confident.

During this past year as the assistant sortie support flight chief, Cooper provided leadership and guidance to 29 personnel from seven Air Force specialty codes.
Her team was responsible for 24 programs, 2,000 tools and 311 pieces of equipment, and under her leadership, the flight's QA pass rate rose from 71 to 87 percent. Cooper was recently chosen as an Air Force-level Airlift/Tanker Association Young Leadership Award recipient. Is the 86th MXG ready? Really LCAP-compliant ready? Ask Cooper. Ask Jennings.

Jennings led the 86th Airlift Wing's aircraft maintenance 12-person team during the 2011 AMC Rodeo International Competition. During this competition, he and his team were put through immense compliance-inspection scrutiny as they competed against 12 U.S. and international C-130 airlift teams. Jennings led his team to an overall second place finish with a score of 92.3 percent, just 1.7 percent behind the No. 1 team. His Airlift Rodeo maintenance team was one of only three international teams to score above 90 percent.

Though it takes immense focus day in and day out to maintain a perpetual culture of compliance, when it's all said and done, the recipe for compliance success is really not that hard for any organization to achieve. Just follow the book and do it right -- not some of the time, not most of the time, but all of the time.

Take your time and execute at a no faster than safe pace. Check six -- your own and those with whom you serve. Be willing to say "Knock it off" when you see non-compliant or unsafe actions being executed.

We all have awesome Airmen serving our great Air Force in our organizations.
Expect compliance, demand compliance, settle for nothing less, and compliance will occur. Similar to the saying in the film, "Field of Dreams," "If you build it, they will come," so will our professional Airmen. Our professional Airmen will deliver. Our professional Airmen are ready. Our professional Airmen will
not falter and they will not fail. Come inspect us!