UCI Prep: don’t overlook obvious

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- As we get closer to our Unit Compliance Inspection, I see everyone focused on crossing T's and dotting I's. It is refreshing to see our young Airmen and NCOs digging in the instructions and regulations ensuring their programs are not only in compliance, but also ensuring they are able to brief and explain their programs.

The extended hours worked throughout the weeks and the numerous weekends are sure to pay off. I am confident that we will be ready when the team arrives next month. Our programs will be uptight, training will be good, and our Airmen will be ready and motivated to brief their programs with pride.

As we prepare, I only hope we don't overlook the obvious - the areas I call "freebies." Freebies are the things that we have total control over and will set the tone of the inspection. There are many, but I will focus on a few that are often overlooked until it is too late: appearance, customs and courtesies, and attitude. We only get one chance to make a first impression.

The freebies immediately help determine whether the remaining inspection time results in an organization fighting to work their way up from perceived satisfactory rating (due to a poor first impression) or working to lose the perceived outstanding rating (due to a great first impression).

The appearance piece covers the installation and unit appearance, as well as individual dress and appearance. Did we take the time to present a clean, well kept installation/work environment? Did we ensure our Airmen are also inspection ready by being well groomed and wearing sharp uniforms and polished boots?

Customs and courtesies are very important. Did we render the proper customs and courtesies by being respectful; stand when senior ranking personnel entered a room, use sir and ma'am, and rank versus first names?

Attitude is everything. Did we have a positive attitude when the inspector pointed out discrepancies? Did we correct discrepancies on the spot and/or follow up with inspectors if corrections and answers were not readily available? Did we respectfully disagree with an inspector?

Did we up-channel discrepancies/disputes to our superiors instead of becoming offensive and argumentative? The bottom line is that attention to detail in the small things is a great indication that the larger things are in order.

I think you get my point - while we all want to have flawless programs, the reality is we will always have things and practices that can be improved. Our reaction to inspector observations and comments, coupled with the first impression the team received, will make a big difference not only in the work center and functional scoring, but ultimately the overall rating the wing receives.

I thank you for your dedication and drive as you work the extended hours and days to dot the I's and cross the T's. Passing inspections is a vital part of ensuring freedom's future. It is not always an easy task, but the rewards will come in the end just as they did for the NSI. Remember, do not overlook the obvious and miss out on the freebies.