A culture of excellence

  • Published
  • By Col. Shawn Pederson
  • 4th Fighter Wing vice commander
The operational readiness inspection has come and gone. We passed . . . and each and every member of the 4th Fighter Wing should be proud of the team effort that carried us across the finish line.

We received a "Satisfactory" rating from the Inspector General after what we can all agree was a slight stumble out of the starting gate. Each of us contributed to and can be proud of that hard-won victory. But, each of us also has a responsibility to apply the lessons learned during the ORI. Perhaps the most important lesson we learned as a wing is the importance of what the Air Combat Command/IG called a "culture of compliance." At the end of the ORI, it was the fact the IG team saw what they labeled as a "... strong culture of compliance" that caused them to award us the overall grade of satisfactory. It is devotion to that culture we should constantly seek to foster and strengthen every day. It is that culture that will lead to our continued success in our upcoming inspections and operations at home and around the world.

Many of you may not realize the 4th FW has another major inspection right around the corner. It is called the Logistics Compliance Assessment Program, commonly known as the LCAP, and it will take place Feb. 7 - 11. Yes, that is three and a half weeks away and yes, this is another very important inspection for the entire wing.

For those whose functional area will not really be affected by the LCAP, here is a brief overview. The LCAP, as defined by Air Force Instruction 20-111 is intended to provide "leadership at all levels with an evaluation of a unit's ability to perform key logistics processes in a safe, standardized, repeatable and technically compliant manner."

The LCAP is similar in many ways to a unit compliance inspection but has some key differences. Where a UCI is a base-wide evaluation of processes and documented compliance, the LCAP is strictly focused on the logistics enterprise, and it relies far more on the direct evaluation of individual Airmen's performance while performing their job. The LCAP also will evaluate the proficiency of our own quality assurance personnel as well as the proficiency, accuracy and sufficiency of our instructors and trainers across primarily the maintenance and mission support groups.

So what are the common errors and keys to success with the LCAP? The first common error is for many in the wing to wrongly think the LCAP does not involve them because they "don't do logistics." Wrong! Ok, so it's pretty obvious if your shop does anything to plan, source, make, repair, deliver and return pieces, parts and fuel for the flying mission, then you probably do logistics. But, if you think about it, everybody else is a key enabler to those functions in some way. This is a whole wing inspection, and it has the full attention and support of leadership from the wing commander on down. Our second error would be to falsely think because we passed the ORI . . . that we have this LCAP wired. Although readiness and compliance go hand in hand, the LCAP is going to have a more laser-like focus on how each individual performs their primary job responsibilities and is held accountable for those tasks.

With all that in mind, we can wrap this little diatribe up with some keys to our success. First, we will not do well unless each of us takes personal accountability for knowing and doing our job exactly as it is described in technical orders, instructions, manuals and directives in the safest manner possible. It is simple. Have pride and take ownership of the task, know and do your job and don't rely on somebody else to catch your errors for you. This is not the time for anyone to accept that they might be their shop's weakest link. If you are the expert in your shop, or one of those informal leaders everybody comes to when they need help . . . it is time for you to step up and help lead your teammates to your level of greatness.

Finally, as I said toward the beginning, the "culture of compliance" needs to be something we foster and protect with everything we have because it is what makes the military special. It is what we expect of each other and the standard we trust each other to uphold because we know lives depend on it. However, if we really want to do well in this LCAP and on into the future, we need to raise the bar even higher than simply the "compliance" culture for which the IG applauded us. We should hope to be recognized for a "culture of excellence." When I hear the word compliance, it sounds as if the task is being done in a particular way because "the book" says so. When I hear excellence, I know the task was done right because someone added personal pride on top of their knowledge, proficiency and compliance. It is a notion built on our Air Force Core values of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. Those values are the very backbone of a culture of excellence, and they remind us that striving for excellence is not a choice, but rather our duty.

With the LCAP right around the corner, it is time for us all to put our game faces on and realize we each play a role in this next major wing inspection. It starts with knowing and doing our jobs with pride and a sense of personal responsibility and accountability. With that as a starting point, and a wing-wide attitude that we will not only show the LCAP team our culture of compliance, but also our culture of an unwavering commitment to excellence, then this is going to be just another minor hurdle for a wing known for greatness.

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