There is no question this is
a time of constrained budgets across the world, and the
Department of Defense is no different. Between worldwide
commitments and the need for updated training and equipment,
resources and dollars are stretched every day.
why would we hold the Air Mobility Rodeo at all?
It's a fair question and certainly deserves an answer.
In addition to this being a time of great financial
responsibility, it's also a time when we've asked more of
our Airmen than we ever have. And that means making sure
they're the best-trained as possible.
It's also a
time when we need international partners more than ever. In
addition to providing us bases from which to operate, we're
much more effective when we have allies with whom we can
partner for aeromedical evacuation, humanitarian assistance,
aerial refueling, and passenger and cargo delivery.
In other words: mobility missions.
Just as Air Combat Command has Red Flag,
the international air combat training exercise, Air Mobility
Command has Rodeo.
Rodeo gives us the opportunity to
get together with mobility service members from around the
world and collaborate and learn from each other. We do this
through a series of more than 50 competitive events where
participants demonstrate those important skills they bring
to the mobility mission.
The competitions are
designed by experts in their career fields. They've taken
scenarios from deployed locations and created contests that
reflect the skills mobility Airmen need to have. The
participants are taking what they learn at Rodeo and
applying it both at home and down range.
competition has a specific purpose to it. Through these
events, we're finding more efficient and effective ways to
move passengers and cargo, refuel planes, and save lives.
We bring the best to compete against each other at
Rodeo. But it's about more than just bragging rights. Our
AMC A9 team - that's the Lessons Learned folks - go around
and capture those best practices from the winning teams.
After all, once we've established what the 'best of the
best' did to be that good at what they do, it becomes the
part of military gatherings is interacting with people --
friends from previous assignments, reminiscing together
about deployments and creating new friendships.
so many people from around the world coming here for Rodeo,
we also hosted two seminars: the International Aeromedical
Evacuation/En Route Medical Care Conference and the
International Airdrop Symposium. More than 400 attendees
from 28 nations attended these two landmark events, which
featured speakers from a variety of countries sharing their
stories, advice and lessons learned with their peers. These
events will most certainly improve worldwide mobility
As far as the actual Rodeo events, we
have teams from seven other countries competing here.
Representatives from more than 20 others are here to observe
what we do so they can capitalize on what we're all
learning, and even take part in Rodeo in the future. There's
so much to learn from each other at Rodeo, and more people
want to be a part of that. We're happy to have them.
Much of Rodeo is about building international partnerships.
For example, because C-130 teams from Pakistan were familiar
with the capabilities our Airmen have, it made it easier for
us to partner with them when we were asked to assist in
providing humanitarian relief to their country in the wake
of recent earthquakes and flooding.
And then there's
the story of Senior Airman Martin Jensen. Airman Jensen grew
up in The Netherlands until he was about 11 years old, until
he moved to the U.S. He's been the liaison to the Dutch team
at Rodeo since he speaks the language fluently, so he's
helped us bridge communication gaps. Unfortunately, Airman
Jensen's grandmother back in The Netherlands is very ill.
When the Dutch team heard about this, they immediately
offered Airman Jensen a seat on their C-130 when they fly
home so he can be with her.
That's what building
international partnerships is all about.
ESPRIT DE CORPS
During Rodeo, more than 3,000 people
gather for the competition. Each of them represents their
base team. The competition events are intense and the judges
are exacting. So between events, it only makes sense to give
everyone a place to relax and promote camaraderie.
And that's why we have Rainier Ranch. With a beautiful view
of the flightline, and Mt. Rainier in the background, the
area is a perfect place for participants to gather and
socialize. Each team gets a tent to decorate to provide
meeting places for their unit and their guests.
teams also bring their local civic leaders with them to see
what Airmen do at Rodeo. Having buy-in from those important
community members is integral to the relationship between an
installation and its civilian neighbors.
of the nature of the competition portions of Rodeo, some
uniform variations are applied. People are allowed to wear
unit t-shirts and ball caps because it makes them easily
identifiable. Everyone here represents their base and their
Rodeo is a special event designed to promote
unit pride. As the Rodeo commander, I'm all for leveraging
uniform variations to encourage that.
The Air Mobility Rodeo competition is an
event that dates back to the early days of the Military Air
Transport Service, AMC's grandfather organization. In his
first State of the Union Address, President Kennedy stressed
the importance of rapid global mobility.
air transport mobility -- and obtaining it now -- will
better assure the ability of our conventional forces to
respond, with discrimination and speed, to any problem at
any spot on the globe at a moment's notice," the president
We've continued President Kennedy's mandate to
promote and excel when it comes to air mobility. It's what
we mean when we talk about "Global Reach for America."
Rodeo has roots that are 55 years old. Only by working
together, collaborating together and partnering together
today, will we take the air mobility mission into tomorrow.
And that's why Rodeo is important.