By Staff Sgt. Mindy Bloem, 149th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 29, 2016
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - LACKLAND, Texas -- In 2012, the Inspector General for Inspections office was a new program in the Air Force and didn't officially come into play at the 149th Fighter Wing until the following year.
When Senior Master Sgt. Carl Boeshore arrived at the 149th, after his old unit, the 217th Training Squadron closed shop, he became the first enlisted member assigned to the newly developed IGI section.
Boeshore is no stranger to the inspection process. He was once written up for having too many additional duties, 28 in total at the time, but said that experience has benefited him in his current IGI position.
"In the write up, the inspector granted that I was doing my additional duties well, but that having 28 was too many," said Boeshore, referring to an inspection he had received early in his career. "But now, as an inspector, having that depth of knowledge from all of those additional duties has really helped me get familiar with a lot of various programs."
Lt. Col. Edward Stamper arrived at the wing shortly after Boeshore's arrival, when the IGI was still in its infancy at the wing.
"The Air Force enacted the IGI around 2012, and the wing inspection program started in March of that same year, but the first person actually assigned to the inspection program was Sergeant Boeshore in 2013," Stamper said.
According to Stamper, when the IG was halved to become two separate sections -- one being the IG Quality of Life, designated for complaints resolution; the other being the IGI, designated for inspections -- Stamper joined the team as the head of this newly conceptualized department, mainly overseeing the IGI section.
Lt. Col. Christopher Miller, already assigned to what was then the IG, now became head of the more precisely formed IGQ section.
With all of these changes and no clear-cut direction from higher headquarters, the IGI staff decided to create a lot of its own guidance to get their tasks accomplished.
"The MAJCOMS, AETC and the Air Force Inspection Agency - they were not giving guidance other than what had been printed," said Stamper, recalling the early days of setting up the IGI. "Their intent was to get creative solutions, pick the best ones and make those a best practice. Because of that, we were kind of on our own."
One of the first tasks Stamper assigned to Boeshore was no small undertaking.
"I wanted him to go through every inspection report that he could find that had been done elsewhere and create a checklist," Stamper said. It was a tough job for a [Drill Status Guardsman]. It must have taken him about four months, but he did it."
From that assignment came the Major Graded Area inspection checklist, a local wing product still used to date.
"It may seem minor, but this document represents hundreds of hours of research," Stamper said, pointing to various categories and subcategories under the four main ones on the checklist that Boeshore created. "One of our biggest challenges was there was no playbook for the inspection system. We now have something that we use in every single inspection."
Stamper referred to Boeshore as an "administrative wonder" and Boeshore, too, sees it as one of his strengths.
"One thing I've realized about myself is that I'm a good administrator," he said. "The biggest challenge is finding the most efficient way to do things. It's a lot of refinement of the process, a lot of trial and error."
The end result was a product the IGI staff could use in a comprehensive fashion when performing inspections.
"The checklist allows us to go in and capture the data needed to give to wing leadership to say this is what that unit looks like, this is their health -- the good, the bad, the things we need to change and the things we need to leave alone," Boeshore said.
According to Boeshore, the members of the IGI team are "solution managers" of sorts.
"We don't tell you how to solve your problem," Boeshore said. "That's not our realm. If we hear of something that may be a benefit to you, we'll pass that on to you, but our job is to help you identify the problem so you can find a solution and track work within it."
Stamper said one of the biggest hurdles the IGI has been trying to overcome is getting people out of the old inspection mindset.
"A lot of people still haven't gotten a grasp on how you apply this effectiveness concept to the compliance concept we've had for so long," said Stamper. "It's no longer about being perfect. It's about being in control of your imperfections. The difference in the new system is continuous self-inspection, not trying to look perfect for one inspection."
Boeshore said part of the education process is eliminating people's misconceptions that the IGI is a villain out looking for a problem.
"I didn't want to be that evil IG guy," he said, before illustrating his point with a typical scenario. "You know, 'here he comes. Where are the coffee and doughnuts? Get them ready.' I've been in those shoes. I didn't want to be that guy."
Boeshore knows that to change the culture of thinking from compliance to effectiveness begins with the "mentoring moments" he gets on the job.
"We come in, sit people down and ask them how their program is going or what kinds of problems are they having and how they're working to fix them," he said. "Having a deficiency is not the worst thing anymore. The best thing you can do is admit you have a problem so you can find a solution."
Stamper gave an example early in the inspection process of a unit that had a major wing-wide program that the Wing Inspection Team rated as "marginally effective."
Nearly 10 months later, that same program was rated as "best seen to date" and "best in AETC" during the MAJCOM Unit Effectiveness Inspection CAPSTONE. Stamper said that unit's program is still the only one of its kind recognized to this day as having UEI strength by the Air Education and Training Command and represents how the new inspection program highlights non-compliance to enable corrective actions.
Since leaving his former IG position to become the deputy Mission Support Group commander, Stamper said he has and will remain heavily involved in the transition process with Lt. Col. Jeff Towns, now on board as Stamper's replacement.
1st Lt. Jonathan Sweat, coordinator for the Wing Inspection Program, arrived in the IG office the same time as Stamper, and is still in the office full-time with Towns, which Stamper said is helping with the "continuity and flow" during this transition period.
Boeshore is also set to leave the IGI soon when he retires in April. He said with the military constantly reducing in size, having to do things efficiently is essential. With that in mind, he wants people to remember that the IGI exists for the units' benefit. "We want to change the culture of inspections," he said. "We're not the bad guys. We're here to help."