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News > Base to maintain readiness despite ORI cancellation
Base to maintain readiness despite ORI cancellation

Posted 12/15/2011   Updated 12/15/2011 Email story   Print story


by Chuck Paone
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

12/15/2011 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- Air Force Materiel Command officials have approved the cancellation of the full-scale Operational Readiness Inspection at Hanscom, which had been scheduled for spring 2012.

Lt. Col. Scott Pierce, 66th Air Base Group Inspector General, was quick to explain that this does not mean that our readiness preparations and training can stop.

"On the contrary," he said. "Our readiness is vitally important to the way we conduct our day-to-day operations and we must maintain our readiness levels regardless of any changes in the inspection format."

Pierce explained that Hanscom's readiness will be tested through a more focused Targeted Readiness Inspection (TRI) to be conducted as part of the next scheduled Unit Compliance Inspection (UCI).

"We do not know exactly when the next UCI/TRI will come," Pierce said. "But we don't need to know, because we will make sure we are ready."

Based on the governing Air Force Instruction, the next UCI must be held within 60 months of the previous one, which for Hanscom would mean no later than November 2013. However, AFMC is only required to notify a base 45 days prior to arrival and could visit Hanscom anytime between now and November 2013, according to Pierce.

"The way we prepare is by maintaining a robust Self Inspection Program and an active exercise program," he said.

He notes that AFMC Commander Gen. Donald Hoffman emphasized this point when concurring with the decision to postpone the spring ORI.

"General Hoffman wrote that, in addition to the targeted evaluations, he expects local commanders to continue their exercises and self inspections," Pierce said.

The move comes in response to budget cuts and follows an AFMC "Inspection Risk Prioritization Briefing." In developing that, AFMC conducted a "base-by-base comparison of the maximum simultaneous authorizations available for rotational deployment taskings."

The analysis showed that Hanscom and some other AFMC bases had "relative minimum deployment-to-theater requirements." That determination led to a conclusion of "low risk" in not conducting the scheduled ORI this spring.

"What AFMC has acknowledged by going to targeted readiness inspections is that one size doesn't fit all," said ESC Chief of Staff Col. Tim Nickerson. "We have a unique mission of providing the warfighter with the tools necessary to execute the mission. We do not deploy as a unit but do so individually in support of AEF deployments. TRIs will focus more on our process for getting those folks down range and acquiring vital systems for the warfighter.

"We're ready to send our warriors to the battlefield, but Hanscom's primary mission is to provide electronic systems and capabilities to our warfighters on the front lines, and we don't diminish the value and contributions of our units or our people by stating that we can do that best from Hanscom Air Force Base," he added.

The new TRI format has not been finalized yet, but will likely include a deployment processing scenario, which also takes into account all of the pre-deployment preparation such as medical readiness and proper assembly of deployment bags. Readiness inspectors will also look at the ability of deployers to survive and operate in a deployed environment.

Beyond deployment-related responsibilities, a TRI will also test, through various exercise scenarios, the ability of base personnel to respond to emergencies, including active shooters, hazardous materials spills, aircraft crashes and even natural disasters. The inspection will examine - primarily by reviewing actual, ongoing efforts - acquisition managers' ability to provide quick reaction capabilities to warfighters and will also test the skills and abilities of functional experts to conduct deployment-specific duties.

At Hanscom, cancellation of the spring ORI doesn't mean that preparedness in any of those areas should drop off, Pierce said.

"Team Hanscom has devoted a great deal of time and energy over the past 10 months preparing for a readiness inspection that now more closely matches Hanscom's real wartime missions," he said. "But I'm confident we will maintain our readiness and the excellence of what we do as we continue a strong, yet focused base exercise program and through an active and robust Self Inspection Program in each and every unit."

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