By Master Sgt. David Eichaker | National Guard BureauAugust 21, 2019
ARLINGTON, Va. - Embracing the motto "to teach and train," over 100 inspectors general from the 50 states, three territories, and District of Columbia met at the 2019 National Guard Bureau Inspectors General Conference to hear the latest developments from senior leaders and receive critical training.
The three-day conference in Arlington, Virginia, provided the IGs direct interface with subject matter experts from the Department of Defense, Air Force and Army IG offices. They were joined by directors from the Army and Air National Guard, and NGB joint staff subject matter experts. Training covered areas such as enlisted policy updates, the Organizational Inspection Program (OIP), and the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT).
"Training is very important. It's why we have everybody here," said Tony West, the National Guard Bureau's Inspector General. "We want you to be the very best that you can be."
Others echoed West's sentiment.
"This has been a great experience to go right from TIGS (The Inspector General School) into this conference," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Teresa Frank, the Florida National Guard's detailed inspector general. "I could see how other units across the country are being affected by some of the things we were trained on."
One training topic, in particular, included the upcoming Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT). Soldiers from the ACFT Mobile Training Team at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., discussed the new test and provided demonstrations of the individual events.
"We had the opportunity to ask the trainers direct questions about things that concern IGs about the test," said Frank. "It was good to talk to the instructors. It helped us understand the test before it gets implemented."
As the "eyes, ears, voice, and conscience" for a command, senior leaders also discussed the value IGs provide, such as conducting impartial inspections, assessments, and investigations and assisting leadership in maintaining readiness and effectiveness.
"IGs are a phenomenal asset and do so much for our organization," said Army Lt. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, Army National Guard director. "You can help resolve a lot of the issues at the lowest level and make sure everybody realizes that rules and regulations are followed."
Risk management is one way IGs support commanders. By helping to identify and assess risks that can arise from operational factors, IGs help leaders make better-informed decisions.
The "risk versus reward" and "perception versus reality" is something commanders have to balance on a daily basis, observed Air Force Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice, Air National Guard director. "The balance between those two is why you are here."
Hearing from the directors proved beneficial for many, as IGs were able to get viewpoints they otherwise wouldn't be able to hear while underscoring the significance of the IG role.
"I really appreciated the generals coming in to talk to us and give us their perspective," said Frank. "You see how they value you as an IG … commanders are seeing how the IG can help resolve personnel issues that impact readiness."
Conducting inspections, including the Organizational Inspection Program or OIP, is another way IGs actively assist leaders.
"I will take the new OIP information back to our state and review our own programs," said U.S. Army Col. Kevin Agen, the Wisconsin National Guard's command inspector general, adding inspections help leaders identify problems that could impact the entire organization.
Networking, establishing professional relationships and discussing complex issues proved beneficial to many IGs.
"The most valuable thing here is the networking," Agen insisted. "Knowing who to call if a particular case comes up is invaluable."
According to West, IGs can impact a unit's mission and play a pivotal role in maintaining readiness.
"There are a lot of people out there that you're going to influence, and you're going to help," he told attendees.
The Army National Guard's top general agreed.
"You're there to take care of our Soldiers and Airmen and make sure things go the way they are supposed to," Hokanson said. "[IGs] can help resolve issues by working with leaders at every level." Ultimately, he added, IGs let Soldiers and Airmen know there is support "to do the right thing."