NEWS | July 21, 2009

Total force impact evident at Rodeo

By 2nd Lt. Erika Wonn Rodeo 2009 Public Affairs

The Air Force's total force concept is clearly on display at Air Mobility Rodeo 2009 here.

Not only are lessons learned from interaction with Marine Corps members and international counterparts participating in the competition, but also from the coordinating components within the Air Force -- the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve.

Rodeo is an international combat skills and flying operations competition designed to develop and improve techniques, procedures and interoperability with international partners to optimize mobility partnerships and enhance mobility operations. More than 100 teams are participating in the competition including teams from seven foreign countries.

As a total force, the Air Force boasts more than 40 air mobility units all over the world. Of these units, the Guard and Reserve account for 59 percent of the Air Mobility Command's airlift capabilities and 54 percent of AMC's air refueling capabilities. Although other Guard and Reserve units are competing on the same team as their base's active duty counterparts, three Guard and two Reserve units are participating separately in this year's Rodeo competition.

Of the three Guard units participating, two are airlift units, and one is an air refueling unit; the 121st Air Refueling Wing from the Ohio Air National Guard.

Capt. Nick Hupp, a 121st ARW aircraft commander, said the experiences shared at Rodeo are beneficial for all the Air Force components involved.

"Every component brings something to the table," he said. "When they talk about total force, it definitely describes today's Air Force accurately."

Lt. Col. Garin Tentschert, team chief for the Reserve 446th Airlift Wing from McChord Air Force Base, agreed.

"We have active duty and Reserve here," he said. "With all of the flying that we do, we borrow ideas and resources from each other every day."

The two Reserve units are airlift wings. One is from Youngstown, Ohio, and the other from McChord AFB.

The Rodeo competition seeks to help adapt strategies and tactics to meet both current and future war fighting requirements. By using examples from other teams at the competition, active-duty, Guard and Reserve members can learn valuable tools of the trade.

"This is a great opportunity to clear the air about misinformation between units and aircraft types," Colonel Tentschert. "This is especially true with the tanker units since we work with them so often, but never get to talk outside of (operational missions)."

Captain Hupp, who has attended two previous Rodeos, said the competiton helps ease the harshness of a sometimes very competitive occupation.

"There's a rivalry between the innerservice components just like the rivalry between the different (military) services," Captain Hupp said. "We all want to be the best, but when push comes to shove, we're all still fighting for the same team."