It's ORI Time! Your guide to an 'outstanding' ORI
By Maj. David Kurle , 442nd Fighter Wing public affairs
/ Published October 16, 2009
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- For more than two years the will of the entire 442nd Fighter Wing has been bent toward a sole purpose - earning a grade of "outstanding" on its operational readiness inspection scheduled for Oct. 23 to 29.
Since Col. Mark Clemons took command of the wing Aug. 2, 2008, he has led the wing through the process of getting ready for what is the most rigorous, conventional evaluation an Air Force unit receives.
"We had a good foundation when I showed up here," Colonel Clemons said. "We weren't ready to rock and roll yet, but we've improved by leaps and bounds since then."
The wing commander's first priority, as in all 442nd operations and activities, is safety. Beyond that, Colonel Clemons stressed that following established procedures and adapting to different situations are part of the recipe for ORI success.
"I feel very comfortable at this point," he said. "We just need to execute the way we've been trained and we'll be fine.
"We don't want to make any major changes now," the colonel added. "Our processes are in place and we need to keep the changes to a minimum. There are going to be situations that come up we haven't seen before in our exercises - it's very, very important that we adapt to those."
Lt. Col. Michael Leonas, 442nd Operations Group chief of standardization and evaluation, has been planning and coordinating the wing's operational readiness exercises leading up to the ORI and he agrees with Colonel Clemons' recommendations about adaptation during the evaluation.
"The big thing is when an input occurs, take it 100 percent seriously," Colonel Leonas said. "Be positive about your actions, or make a decision and improvise if you need to.
"We need to have a positive, proactive response to every input, rather than a passive, laissez faire attitude," he stressed.
Another key ingredient for ORI success is attitude - maintaining a positive, "can-do" attitude is extremely important, according to Colonels Clemons and Leonas, as well as the wing's command chief master sergeant, Chief Allan Sturges.
"A positive mental attitude is having a positive attitude, doing your job correctly, not cutting corners and going the extra mile to make sure everything gets done correctly," said Chief Sturges, a veteran of at least five ORIs in his career. "But, most importantly, it's walking around with a smile on your face because that rubs off on everyone you come into contact with."
All three men agreed the wing's attitude will help paint a picture for the inspectors as soon as they arrive.
"The first thing the IG (inspector general) needs to see is an outstanding unit right when they step on our turf," Colonel Clemons said. "The first impression goes a long way."
The first impression for the Air Combat Command IG team will come during the initial briefings and processing the wing will provide upon the team's arrival.
"Our attitude is the very first thing we need to get right," Colonel Leonas said. "We have to maintain a positive, proactive attitude regardless of the challenges the IG presents us with during the inspection."
"We want to show them what an outstanding organization we are and that we know how to execute an ORI," Colonel Clemons said. "We want to show them a little something extra, what we call 'lagniappe' in Louisiana."
The French word, lagniappe, means "something that is added" and all three men stressed that going above and beyond is another ingredient in ORI success.
"That little something extra goes a long way," Colonel Clemons said. "Always show that sense of urgency, no matter how tired you are."
"The IG team is going to challenge us beyond what may appear realistic and the scenario is not consistent with our current combat experiences," Colonel Leonas said. "So we need to be prepared for that."
"What you have to remember is we're not in Bagram, we're not in Iraq - we're fighting through an ORI and we have to fight it according to AFI 90-201," said Chief Sturges, referring to the Air Force regulation that governs the inspection process. "Don't argue with inspectors. If you have an issue with an inspector, run that up through your supervisory chain."
Colonel Clemons agreed and said it's important for the wing to communicate through its chain of command.
"If you don't have the answer, the chain of command can get that for you," he said. "We've got to make sure we communicate about what's going on out there and ask questions if we don't understand what the IG is telling us."
What the entire inspection exercise boils down to is 98 A-10 combat sorties in two days, according to Colonel Clemons.
"Sortie generation and mission effectiveness," he said. "All this stuff we're doing is focused on those two objectives.
"All the hard work is past us," Colonel Clemons said. "Now we need to show up well rested the third week in October and execute."