CAMP HENRY, Republic of Korea -The Inspector General is often an overlooked or misunderstood section, but it is a deep-rooted, essential office for the commander, leaders and Soldiers.
The Inspector General Corps of the U.S. Army has its roots in the Revolutionary War. In the early stage of the war, the Continental Army was plagued by disorganization and an absence of central tactical guidance. Consequently, Gen. George Washington gathered 14 general officers on Oct. 29, 1777, and decided that an Inspector General for the Army was necessary. He envisioned that the IG’s duties would fill the role of a “drill master general” or a “muster-master general,” who would supervise the training of the entire Army and would be the commander’s agent to ensure tactical efficiency and competence of the troops.
Although the IG of today is not the one originally envisioned by Washington, there are still traces of its ancestral roots. The IG serves as a member of the Commander’s personal staff providing advice and counsel, and also acts as a fair and objective fact finder to the unit.
“Our services are directly impact our readiness and warfighting capability, and I take great pride in knowing that the commander truly values what we do—serving as an extension of his eyes, ears voice and conscience,” said Maj. Rockie Ventura, command inspector general, 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command.
IG’s core functions consist of inspections, assistance, investigations, and teaching and training. IG performs these functions to improve the readiness and war-fighting capability of the unit.
With inspections, IG assesses and enhances the ability of the command to effectively perform its mission. They look at the problems that may harm the readiness of the unit and identify the causes of to maintain the unit’s readiness.
“One of the Inspector General office’s focuses is to ensure that we are looking to see if the units are doing what they’re supposed to in accordance with CG’s intents, as well as the regulations,” said Ventura.
Assistance is an informal, fact-finding process used to address a complaint involving a request for assistance or information. An individual can come or make a phone call to IG or even drop an anonymous note. IG reads what issue they may have and determine what recourse is available.
“We determine the best course of action,” said Ventura.
Investigation is a fact-finding examination into violation of law, policy, or ethical standards such as fraud, waste, and abuse. This function is conducted if the commanding general directs IG to do an investigation.
Last but not least, IG provides teaching and training for both the commander and Soldiers. IG’s teaching and training function can be divided into formal and informal options. In the formal method, there’s several examples of formal way of teaching and training, such as a new incomers briefing and IG training session during Basic Leadership Course. They provide information about how people can utilize IG. Also in informal way, IG educates the personnel who comes to them to get better understanding of the regulation. And also if they spot something, that’s the time to educate what’s the CG’s intent and what is the regulatory guidance. Therefore, teaching and training are truly embedded in everything IG does.
“So someone may have the question about regulation and maybe feel like it’s gray,” said Ventura. “For Inspector General, there’s no gray. It’s black and white regulation for us, and we offer that and interpret that for them.”
Many Soldiers may be hesitant to visit IG with an issue, but they don’t have to worry. On DA Form 1559 which initiates the inspection, Soldiers can give IG permission whether or not to utilize personal information to address the issues. Giving permission may be beneficial to address the issue, but IG is not authorized to utilize that information without permission.
“We like to connect our confidentiality to a doctor-patient relationship,” said Ventura. “When you go to the doctor, they’re gonna hold your information and protect it.”
Bear in mind, however, personnel should attempt to resolve issues or complaints at the lowest possible level, such as a unit’s chain of command, before they file complaints to IG. And also you should check if your complaint is in IG’s field. IG does not intervene in the issues directly related to SHARP, MEO, Evaluation and issues that have other means of redress. If you are not sure your concern is appropriate to be filed, contact the 19th ESC IG office for guidance or advice. The IG team would help you to get proper assistance from a proper team.
“We are literally impacting people’s lives by helping people grow as an Army Professional and by helping them overcome difficult challenges,” said Ventura. “We have a lot of pride in the value we bring not only to individual people but also to the 19th ESC organization as a whole.”