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Inspectors general expand scope to serve modern military

Northwest Guardian

Published: 03:57PM July 3rd, 2014

There was a time in the U.S. Army when the prospect of a visit from the inspector general struck fear throughout the chain of command.

Though IGs still might have that connotation, they have far more issues to address than white-glove inspections can resolve. Today’s IG is focused on getting to the bottom of issues that solve problems and enhance readiness.

“It’s like with the issue of sexual assault, people now have more confidence and are more likely to come forward,” said Warren Schultz, Joint Base Lewis-McChord IG. “It’s the same with the IG today — that enhances readiness.”

Twenty-nine inspectors general from 10 commands went out of their way to enhance this open environment not only in the Army, but for all armed forces personnel by completing the training to become qualified to run joint command IG offices.

Participants in the Department of Defense IG’s Joint IG Mobile Training Team course came together from I Corps, U.S. Army Pacific, 7th Infantry Division, 25th Inf. Div., 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, U.S. Army Alaska, JBLM Headquarters, Washington Army National Guard, Western Regional Medical Command and 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command.

The three-week course is normally taught in Washington, D.C., but last month DOD trainers flew to JBLM and condensed it into five days, with a graduation ceremony on June 27 at the Stone Education Center.

“We want to enhance warfighting capabilities, said Col. Dave Rude, I Corps IG and course graduate. “Now we can take sister services complaints and work with them to repair rapport between complainants and command teams.”

The main difference working in a joint environment is in the reporting chains to commanders, said Lt. Col. Mark Towery, I Corps IG. He emphasized IGs treat all services the same.

Schultz said there was once had a stigma that made some service members reluctant to go to the IG for fear of reprisal.

“People thought something bad was going to happen to them for going to the IG, so they would avoid it,” Schultz said. “Now all levels see that something positive will be done.”

Although mediating between (service members), their families, civilians and commands is a major aspect of what the IG does, Rude said they have four main functions: teaching and instruction, inspection, assistance and investigation.

“We are the eyes, ears, voice and conscious for the command,” Rude said.

Edison Fernandez, class instructor from the DOD, said that the class was enthusiastic to learn to complete these functions better and in a joint environment.

“They were very ... eager to learn,” Fernandez said. “I would just tell them to remember everything you learned, but to be open to things you haven’t learned yet.”

Course participants said they will now pass on what they learned to others in their commands.