Schriever IG: 'We are here to help'

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Lt. Col. Kevin Cruze is the 50th Space Wing inspector general. The IG's responsibilities include conducting wing expeditionary and operational readiness inspections and investigating allegations of fraud, waste and abuse. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Don Branum)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Lt. Col. Kevin Cruze is the 50th Space Wing inspector general. The IG's responsibilities include conducting wing expeditionary and operational readiness inspections and investigating allegations of fraud, waste and abuse. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Don Branum)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- "The Inspector General must have a horse allowed him and some soldiers to attend him and all the rest commanded to obey and assist, or else the service will suffer; for he is but one man and must correct many, and therefore he cannot be beloved. And he must ride from one garrison to another to see the soldiers do not outrage or scathe the country ..." -- Codes of Military and Martial Law, 1629

The U.S. military upgraded from horses some time ago, but the current Inspector General system has more in common with that described above than some might think. As in 1629, IGs still "travel" from one unit to another, and IGs still concern themselves with issues that could result in outrage or scandal. And, inexplicably, IGs are still not beloved by all.

The earliest records of military IGs date to 17th Century Europe. The U.S. military first adopted an IG system during the Revolutionary War period. Within the Air Force, the origins of the IG can be traced to 1927 when the Inspection Division was formed under the Chief of the Army Air Corps.

Today, the mission of the Air Force IG is to independently assess the readiness, discipline and efficiency of the Air Force. The IG office at Schriever supports that overarching mission through a variety of programs to include exercises, self-inspection and complaints resolution.

Exercises and self-inspections are important tools in improving and assessing unit readiness and efficiency. Although the IG office leads these efforts, most of the work is done at unit level by Exercise Evaluation Team members and unit Self-Inspection Program monitors.

The IG office is also responsible for complaints resolution, including allegations of fraud, waste and abuse. Although we always encourage individuals to work with their supervisors and chain of command to resolve issues, any individual has the right to come to us whether he has worked through his chain of command or not.

We take complaints through a number of methods, but we prefer to see people in person when possible so that we can clearly establish what the issue is and what resolution the complainant desires. After the initial complaint is passed to us, we conduct a complaint analysis to determine the appropriate resolution path.

We cannot always determine whether any instruction, policy or practice was violated. In such cases, we dismiss the complaint, or we may assist the individual through doing some research or making a couple of phone calls.

Other times, there may be an issue that needs to be addressed by an agency or individual other than the IG such as the civilian or military personnel offices, another IG or the unit commander. In these cases, we refer or transfer the issue to the appropriate office.

If we find there is an issue that is appropriate for the IG system to address, then we proceed to investigation. Air Force wide, only about two percent of complaints proceed to investigation. These usually fall into one of three categories: reprisal, restriction or improper mental health evaluation.

Detailed descriptions of "The Big 3" can be found in Air Force Instruction 90-201, "Inspector General Activities." In a nutshell:

-- Reprisal occurs when a management official takes adverse action against an individual because that person has made a complaint to the IG, a member of Congress or someone in their unit like a flight commander, first sergeant, or squadron commander.

-- Restriction is when an individual is directed not to make use of any of the complaint channels available to them such as the ones listed above.

-- An improper mental health evaluation is any MHE directed by someone other than the Squadron Commander or an MHE directed by the Squadron Commander that does not follow prescribed procedures.

Based on details of the complaint, IGs may investigate other matters, but IGs are compelled to investigate any violation involving reprisal, restriction or improper mental health evaluation.

A typical exchange involving the IG often contains two phrases: "we're here to help," and "we're glad you're here." Tongues may be placed firmly in cheek during this exchange, but personnel should know that the IG office is indeed ready to help.