Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy
Ryan McCarthy, the Secretary of the Army, poses for his official portrait in the Army portrait studio at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, Aug. 3, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Monica King) (Photo Credit: Monica King) VIEW ORIGINAL

Nearly 250 inspectors general (IGs) from across the Army joined a virtual fall conference hosted by the U.S. Army Inspector General Agency Nov. 18. Army Secretary Ryan D. McCarthy provided keynote remarks.

The conference was led by Lt. Gen. Leslie C. Smith, the 66th Inspector General of the Army. Smith reiterated the core function of inspectors general as the eyes, ears, voice and conscience of the Army.

“Make sure you are talking to your leaders – you’re the ones providing that insight to them,” Smith said.

McCarthy spent about 15 minutes addressing the IGs and taking questions afterward.

He noted the challenges faced by the Army in 2020, including the coronavirus response, increased operational tempo, and confronting issues of diversity and inclusion in the ranks, among other matters.

“This has been a rough year, but a vaccine is on the way,” McCarthy said.

He also discussed the Army People Strategy and the importance of looking out for each other across the Army.

“We’re going to make people the number one priority,” McCarthy said. “The key variable is time. It is our greatest commodity; invest it in each other.

Sgt. Maj. Larry Orvis Jr., the Inspector general sergeant major, reminded IGs to remain well-informed and flexible. “Stay current. As the Army continues to adapt, we must also adapt to the Army,” Orvis said.

Inspectors general play a major role in ensuring the Army is taking care of its people and enhancing readiness, he said. “We will continue to be the enterprise that anyone can come to for any reason,” Orvis said.

The IGs received an update from Lt. Col. Lisa Phillips of Army Medical Command on the coronavirus pandemic, recent vaccine developments, and plans being developed to distribute the vaccine when it’s approved and available.

Vernon Crocker, Ph. D., the information management director for the agency, demonstrated the Army IG Inspection Tracker, an application being developed to assist IGs across the Army with planning, tracking and executing inspections at all levels of command. Crocker said work on the application will continue into 2021.

Col. Danielle Ngo, the executive officer to Smith, provided a brief on IG assistance to the Army’s Project Inclusion, which is designed to improve diversity, equity and inclusion across the force. IGs will be instrumental in assisting commanders in facilitating various listening sessions and other initiatives as part of the Army People Strategy.

“It’s a Total Army effort, it’s active, Reserve and National Guard, all three components,” Ngo said.

The Commandant of The Inspector General School (TIGS), Col. Scott Kirkpatrick, reported the school is back to near-normal capacity after rapidly fielding a virtual IG Basic Course amid the coronavirus pandemic. TIGS will continue with virtual classes through at least March.

The IGs also marked the 243rd birthday of the Office of the Inspector General, which was created by the Continental Congress on Dec. 13, 1777.

After a series of unprepared inspectors general, then-Maj. Gen. George Washington appointed a former Prussian officer, Baron Friederich Wilhelm von Steuben, as the fourth Inspector General.

Von Steuben was awarded the rank of major general, and he quickly recognized the American forces were disorganized, poorly trained, undisciplined and under-equipped. Furthermore, he saw that the Army was rife with incompetence and a lack of accountability. He immediately established a training and inspection program for the Army, rapidly transforming the force into a disciplined, cohesive organization capable of fighting the British.

Von Steuben also wrote “Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States,” commonly called the “Blue Book,” which was the Army’s first written regulation.

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Project Inclusion