By Sgt. Jesus J. Aranda,October 31, 2012
"You have a big, big mission, but I know that, with this team, you're up to the task," said Maj. Gen. Stephen G. Fogarty, commanding general, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, following an official swearing in ceremony during which personnel of the INSCOM Inspector General office affirmed or reaffirmed their oath to serve as staff members of the Inspector General office.
Eleven members of the INSCOM IG office recited this oath, pledging responsible and excellent service to the commander and the Soldiers, Civilians, and Families of INSCOM and its subordinate units.
The mission of an IG office is a daunting one: to serve as "the eyes and ears" of the commander at all levels, for every Soldier, Civilian employee, Family member and contractor. The IG inquires into, and periodically reports on the discipline, efficiency, economy, morale, training and readiness of the unit. For Col. Earnest A. Bazemore, the incoming INSCOM inspector general, the duties of an IG also include a very important task which most people don't expect from an IG office.
"IG is here to assist and to help teach and train, and ensure people know how to comply with Army standards," Bazemore said. He wants to inform and advise leaders before negative trends manifest themselves in an effort to be proactive versus reactive. He provides commanders at all levels - oversight, insight, and foresight.
Bazemore, an Army intelligence officer of 27 years, recently began his IG career here at INSCOM but has been through several eras of Army conflict overseas and has spent a large portion of his career supporting the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. During this support, Bazemore has seen the nation's demand for a rapidly deploying Army create a large community of seasoned combat veterans who are well-adjusted to the rigors of yearlong deployments to hostile-fire environments but might not be so adept at adjusting to very different expectations here at home.
"Many of these men and women have spent their entire careers knowing only war and how to prepare for war," Bazemore said. "When they are here, they may not know the standards of working in a garrison environment."
This is where teaching and training, a key priority for Bazemore's IG office, comes into play. Bazemore and his team are well aware of the stigma that comes with the job of serving on an IG team.
For example, a very important part of the IG mission is to conduct unit and office inspections to ensure compliance with the standards, which can be met by inspected personnel with a feeling of distrust.
"When we visit a command and tell the command teams 'we are here to help' they laugh or smile and say 'yeah right,'" said Rey Andres, a member of the INSCOM IG team. "So there is that perception, right or wrong, that IGs are really not sincere when they say 'we are here to help.'"
Bazemore wants to change the perception that the IG is a "black hat" he wants to ensure those in INSCOM know that he and his team are here to help. While the misinterpretation of what the IG office is all about may be personal in nature, Andres feels part of the issue may be that most people do not understand the unique relationship the IG office has with the command and the other members of the unit. This relationship, like many other offices, is one which works for both groups.
"We want the MSC command teams to know that though we work directly for the CG, indirectly we also work for them," said Andres. "We are one team focus on the well-being of Soldiers, family members, DA Civilians and the mission readiness of INSCOM."
Another, equally important part of the IG mission is providing an open avenue for assistance on matters affecting health, welfare and personal readiness, and investigation of possible violations of standards brought forward to the team from an individual or group. These people are invited to bring their issues forward to the IG if they feel the issues have not or cannot be solved at the lower level command channels. After bringing forward the concern, the IG office will provide assistance to resolve the issue or conduct an investigation with commanding general approval.
"We are here to care for the standard but one thing IG isn't here for is to be a 'gotcha' office," said Bazemore. "We are here to help leaders, maintain standards and assist people - not to bust them. What am I here for? Simply to help."
Immediately following the swearing in ceremony, these 11 IG professionals shared Bazemore's eagerness and returned to their office down the hall and go to work. Some of them new to the field and some of them long-time IG professionals, but each person eager to begin helping INSCOM personnel. For this IG office, there is a clear end state for his time as the INSCOM IG.
"Do I and the IG team have a relationship with the units? Do they pass along the word that the IG office is here to help and not penalize?," asks Bazemore. "These are the questions I want to be able to answer yes to when my tour as the Command IG is complete."