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174th Attack Wing uses old methods to tackle new challenges

New York Air National Guard Col. Greg Semmel (left), 174th Attack Wing commander, congratulates new wing Inspector General members. The inspector general team will prepare wing members for future basewide inspections. (New York Air National Guard Photo By Tech. Sgt. Justin A. Huett)

New York Air National Guard Col. Greg Semmel (left), 174th Attack Wing commander, congratulates new wing Inspector General members. The inspector general team will prepare wing members for future basewide inspections. (New York Air National Guard Photo By Tech. Sgt. Justin A. Huett)

HANCOCK FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Syracuse, N.Y. -- "Von Steuben!" said Lt. Col. Charles Hutson, of the 174th Attack Wing (ATKW) Inspector General (IG) team, when asked what is an Inspector General.

For those unfamiliar, Friedrich Wilhelm August Heinrich Ferdinand von Steuben, also referred to as Baron von Steuben was an officer who served as Inspector General for the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He wrote regulations that were used as a drill manual for the United States.

He's most remembered for being General George Washington's chief of staff and his training program that he implemented during this time. Von Steuben chose 120 of his most well trained men and gave them the responsibility of training other personnel. Many crucial battles were won as a result of this type of training.

The 174th Attack Wing has adopted this type of training as a way to prepare for future inspections.

"An Inspector General is a staff officer under the commander responsible for observing, evaluating and reporting everything on that commander's unit," said Hutson. "We're the eyes and ears of the commander."

The IG team consists of Lt. Col. Charles Hutson, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Brown, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Kerneklian, Chief Master Sgt. David Lathrop and Senior Master Sgt. Ginger Gersbacher.

"We have four full-time IG's and one part-time," said Lathrop. "We have a full-time, round-the-clock, year-round inspection program to have us compliance ready at a moment's notice."

"There are two sides to the IG team, a complaint side and an inspection side. The ears side of the IG would be equivalent to the complaint side. The benefit of having this is it gives members an ear to go and be heard by the commander without speaking to the commander directly," said Hutson. "The eyes side would be equivalent to the inspection side and the benefit of having this is members have what would be a sort of quality assurance doing inspections yearly."

Another way that the IG team will keep members of the 174th ATKW compliance ready is by forming a Wing Inspection Team (WIT). The WIT consists of subject matter experts in numerous sections across the base.

"We currently have over 90 members of the WIT and that number is going to change. It'll actually get bigger," said Lathrop.

To become an IG member you have to be appointed by the commander, have prior experience in another field and take a one week inspectors course. Officers have to be above the rank of captain and enlisted members have to be above the rank of Staff Sgt.

If you are interested in becoming an IG team member or WIT member and you fit the criteria, you can volunteer through your commander.

"We've been working on this program for over three months and I think we've made great strides going from nothing to a pretty robust training program," said Lathrop.

"This is going to be a better system overall," said Hutson. "I think many of the programs on base will be improved because they'll be looked at more frequently on a regular basis."