Inspectors general unite to build network across Europe

STUTTGART-VAIHINGEN, Germany — U.S. European Command Inspector General Army Col. Mike Anderson addresses more than 30 IG professionals during the EUCOM IG Conference held here April 3-4. The first EUCOM IG conference in five years focused on establishing a network of knowledge, cooperation and coordination. (Department of Defense photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Devin L. Fisher)

STUTTGART-VAIHINGEN, Germany — Building an inspector general network of knowledge, cooperation and coordination was the focus of the U.S. European Command IG Conference held here April 3-4.

Titled "Getting to Know Your Fellow IGs," the first EUCOM IG conference held in five years had more than 30 IG professionals from the European theater and the U.S. exchanging business cards and handshakes.

The purpose of the IG program is to help individuals, thereby helping the system as a whole, said Army Col. Mike Anderson, the European Command Inspector General. "But if you don't know your fellow IGs [as was the case prior to this conference], you can't put the request for assistance in the right [IG] hands.

"Knowing which command has the capability to remedy a problem is invaluable," he said. For example, if an IG receives a request for assistance concerning medical care at their base, they now know the request should be forwarded to their counterparts at the European Regional Medical Command, which oversees all medical care in the region.

The role of the IG is to act as the commander's "eyes, ears and conscience" as they report on the discipline, morale, efficiency, and readiness of the command — to include service members, their families and Department of Defense civilians, Anderson said.

IGs from as far away as Washington agree the new lines of support are irreplaceable.

"You're simply not in touch [with the issues] unless you get to where the rubber meets the road," said Stan Meyer, from the Department of Defense Inspector General office. "Learning about what's going on in the European theater and knowing you can now exchange e-mails and phone calls with your peers is a tremendous benefit."

Air Force Maj. Craig McCuin, chief of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Complaints and Inquiries Division, says he now has a network of names he can turn to for "advice and experience." He noted this is a vital resource because his office receives a wide range of inquiries from airmen stationed throughout the European theater.

The conference featured "lessons learned and best practice" briefings by IGs from each of the component commanders throughout Europe (U.S. Army, Europe; U.S. Naval Forces Europe; and U.S. Air Forces Europe) as well as the Department of Defense and the Joint Staff IGs from Washington D.C. Anderson summarized the importance of building an IG network: "It's important to know you are not alone … there are other IGs out there dealing with similar issues that are a tremendous resource."

Another five years won't pass before the next European Command IG conference. Next year's conference, tentatively slated for early April, will be held at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, hosted by USAFE IG.

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