86th Airlift Wing Airmen shine in UCI

1st Lt. Jenny Lovett
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***With 11 units receiving “Outstanding” ratings and four individuals singled-out for the Inspector General Award of Excellence, the 86th Airlift Wing earned an overall rating of “Excellent” for its first U.S. Air Forces in Europe Unit Compliance Inspection since 2000.

“What a great day!” said Col. Robert Kane, 86th AW commander. “I am so proud of our hardworking folks who, because of their dedication to the mission, have made this inspection a great success. Our folks outdid themselves again in typical 86th AW style!”

The wall-to-wall packed house in the Nightingale Theater roared when the overall rating was read Tuesday at the UCI outbrief, which served as the culmination of a grueling and thorough examination of how well the 86th AW adheres to instructions, laws and policy.

“I couldn’t be prouder!” said Col. Mike Lewis, 86th Air and Space Communications Group commander whose group earned an “Excellent.” “Every one of our communicators proved the group is ‘ops focused, mission ready’ for any theater communications job you can throw at them … this UCI truly validated our new organization.”

The overall “Excellent” rating signified that the wing’s performance exceeds requirements; procedures and activities are superior; resources and programs are efficient; and the organization is relatively free of deficiencies.

“Exceptional sustained leadership from squadron officers and NCOs is the key to (Contingency Response Group) successes, whether deployed or at home,” said Col. Scott Schafer, 86th CRG commander whose group also earned an “Excellent.” “The UCI was just another opportunity for our Airmen to excel.”

The wing overcame huge odds to deliver the goods for the inspection. It was the first inspection in five years, and the wing continuously supports numerous steady-state deployments in different locations as well as the short-notice operations, such as last fall’s humanitarian assistance to Russia and Africa.

“Our whole group delivered on this very tough inspection, and I’m proud of them all,” said Col. Parker Plumb, 86th Maintenance Group commander whose group earned an “Excellent.” “The keys to the Maintenance Group’s success were the dedication of our personnel, our self-inspection program, great attitudes, improved work center appearance through the 6Ss and a very strong quality assurance program.”

The 60-member inspection team rifled through files, flipped through operating instructions, peeked into the darkest corners of operations for more than a week, delivering a meticulous, comprehensive look at all areas of the wing.

“The inspection was characterized by the wing’s thorough preparation, great attitude and hustle and determination to do the mission right,” said Col. Donald Palandech, USAFE Inspector General deputy chief.  

“Our success in this inspection was another great example of how well our wing Airmen work together as a team,” said Colonel Kane. “Teamwork, attitude and professionalism – an unbeatable combination.”