There may come a time when an issue arises that seems like it cannot be resolved through the chain of command. When that occurs, Airmen can turn to the office of the inspector general.
The IG works to ensure all Airmen receive fair and equitable treatment, free of reprisal or consequence.
“In the complaint side of the IG, we take any issues an individual Airman may have within their duty sections,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Westbrook, 86th Airlift Wing inspector general. “Whether it’s a grievance against a supervisor, a poor enlisted performance report/officer performance report, fraud, waste and abuse, or anything really.”
After receiving a grievance, the IG complaint section discusses the issue with the individual, does some fact finding and a complaint analysis, and determines if the issue falls into the realm of the IG.
Although a person can bring any complaint to the IG, they are not always the ones to work on the resolution.
“We are an avenue of redress if you have no other alternative,” said Chris Senkbeil, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa inspector general complaints and inquiries chief. “We may not have the solution, but we’re someplace you can turn to that can help you understand your issue and/or help get it resolved.”
The IG office primarily focuses on three key issues: fraud, waste and abuse; reprisal; and restriction.
Fraud, waste and abuse is the intentional misuse of government resources to secure for an individual a benefit, privilege, allowance or consideration to which they are not entitled.
Reprisal refers to retaliation against a person who has made a complaint to the IG or another base organization. For example, an Airman received a lower rating on their EPR or OPR, because they made a report.
Finally, restriction refers to an individual’s supervisor or other leadership instructing them to not contact the IG.
“By law, every individual has the right to come to the IG to have their issues addressed,” Westbrook said. “If they have an issue they don’t feel was addressed or addressed adequately through another method, we are often another outlet they can come to.”
Although individuals are not required to do so before coming to the IG, they are encouraged to first talk to their first sergeant or commander.
“Oftentimes we’ll give it back to the commander,” Westbrook said. “The individual may not have felt comfortable bringing the issue to their commander or first sergeant, where we can easily just go to the commander and say, ‘Here’s an issue that exists in your organization. Can you see what you can do to help out with the situation?’”
Westbrook said oftentimes the most efficient and effective way to a resolution is dealing with an issue through an individual’s chain of command. However, he does recognize there may be a reason an individual may not use their chain of command.
It is important to note the IG complaint section does not take sides on any issue. They are not specifically advocates for the individual with the complaint or the commanders.
“We are simply interested in, at the end of the day, what is in the best interest for the U.S. Air Force,” Westbrook said.
Complaints can be made in person, by email or by phone. The 86th AW IG office is located in Bldg. 2106, Room 403 on Ramstein. For more information, call 480-2457 or email email@example.com.