MILFORD, Mass. – At the end of the hall on first floor of the Massachusetts National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters, here, is an office that everyone has heard of, but not everyone is sure of their duties; the office of the Inspector General.
For many Servicemembers, the I.G.’s office is the place they turn to when they have a complaint, have a different interpretation of a regulation or have an issue with their chain of command.
That is only part of the I.G’s duties; it is not their only mission.
While the I.G. works for The Adjutant General in the Massachusetts National Guard, Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter, they must also perform their duties as an impartial observer who can gather and analyze the facts in various situations before offering unbiased recommendations.
The I.G.’s office has four main duties;
Inspections - The I.G. conducts inspections to make sure that all units are following the rules and regulations and that the current standards are not outdated and need to be refined.
1) Assistance - This is the most known and most misunderstood part of the I.G.‘s job: listening to complaints from the troops.
What many troops know is that the I.G. will always listen to their issue.
Unfortunately, what many troops misunderstand is the when the I.G. issues their finding (or decision), the I.G. is bound by the rules and regulations that are currently in force at the time.
For example: Pvt. Snuffy reported to drill four hours late and received non-judicial punishment for violating Article 86 (Absent without Leave) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Snuffy complains to the I.G. that he should not have received the NJP because it wasn’t his fault that he was late due to the fact that his car broke down in an area with no cell phone service. It took him a long time to get his car to a mechanic and then find a ride to drill. Also his First Sergeant doesn’t like him and is using this to “get him.”
In this case the I.G. would make sure that Snuffy had used his chain of command to see if they could fix the issue. If they had had not, Snuffy would be directed to use his chain of command. If they did and let the NJP stand, then the I.G. would look at the current regulations in this instance (Article 86—Absence without Leave), Manual for Courts-Martial United States, 2008 Edition) and find that the First Sergeant had acted within the rules and regulations.
2) Investigations: When the I.G.’s office receives information alleging that a Servicemember or a unit is violating the rules and regulations, then they look into it.
3) Teaching and Training- This is one of the IG’s least commonly known duties. In this capacity the I.G. assists commanders or new commanders in making sure that all members of the command are trained to the current standard.
The National Guard is rather unique when it comes to the duties of the Inspector General. Only in the Guard is there one Command Inspector General in each state, they oversea both the Air and Army units.
In the Mass. National Guard, Lt. Col. Iris Sobchak is the Command Inspector General.
Sobchak is married to Lt. Col. Frank Sobchak, garrison commander, U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. The couple has four children,
From June 2005-May 2006, Sobchak was deployed to Iraq as a member of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). Before coming to Massachusetts, Sobchak worked for four years at the Pentagon.
“I’ve been really impressed by the professionalism and the work ethic of the Guard members I’ve met,” said Sobchak, a graduate of the United States Military Academy, ”It’s really inspiring for me to see just how much of a difference the Guard is making out there.”
Sobchak is rather unique to the state, she is not a Guardsman; she is an active duty Soldier. The position of the Command Inspector General is an active duty slot.
Early in her career, Sobchak worked with a few Guard units during different natural disasters. This is her first long term assignment with the Guard.
“My concern coming to the Guard wasn’t that the performance would be different’ said Sobchak, “I didn’t really know how the Guard operated. I really didn’t know how different the regulatory processes were.”
One of the biggest differences with the Guard is the status (M-day, AGR, State Active Duty, ADOS, Dual-Status…) of any Guardsman on any given day.
“Status really effects what regulation you are under,” said Sobchak, “That’s … what I do when I look at an issue. What status are you on and then what regulation or SOP do I apply in this case to help you with your problem.”
This is her first experience as an I.G. and Sobchak is enjoying it.
“Coming in everyday and not knowing whose going to walk thru that door and what they’re going to bring to me” said Sobchak, ”Some people like predictability but I like the unpredictability. It’s exciting.”
Editor’s note: Spotlight is an ongoing series that features different departments in the Massachusetts National Guard and some of the people who work there.