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NEWS | Jan. 4, 2023

This isn’t their first Rodeo, or is it?

By Senior Airman Matt Porter 87th Air Base Wing

The 305th Air Mobility Wing recently held its first-ever Multi-Capable Airman Rodeo.

The 305th Aerial Port Squadron hosted the event where three teams of “Port Dawgs” intermixed with Maintainers competed in a timed bare tine upload of a single pallet, followed by a rolling stock upload of a 10K All Terrain Materials Handling Forklift.

“The foundation of a rodeo has been around in the Air Mobility sphere for more than 40 years and its purpose has remained the same, to test our readiness capabilities in a competitive environment,” said Staff Sgt. Amanda-Sophia Akpom, 305th Aerial Port Squadron aerial transportation specialist. “We’ve taken that framework and adapted it to encapsulate the training our two squadrons have accomplished, albeit on a much smaller scale.”

According to Akpom, this event was leveraged to provide an outlet that strengthened relations between the two squadrons while showcasing the work that everyone has put in over the last few months.

The premise of being a Multi-Capable Airman isn’t new to the Air force, however, the 305th Maintenance Group is in a unique position to innovate in terms of standardized training.

“Maintainers have been taught how to aid in a select number of tasks to include pallet build up, utilizing Materiel Handling Equipment, upload and download procedures, as well as calculating and implementing appropriate cargo restraints,” said Akpom. “Working and training with our maintenance counterparts expands our mission capabilities and allows us to have a smaller footprint downrange. Having a maintainer that can aid in aerial port duties doesn’t eliminate the need for an aerial porter and vice versa; it does however mean that we are all capable of being proactive team members in environments where manning and resources are limited.”

These smaller teams aren’t meant only for sport or to showcase a competitive edge, but are in keeping with protecting the Air Force’s most valuable strategic resource, its Airmen.

“A smaller team means less Airmen are in harm’s way, the ability to efficiently execute a wider array of tasks also means less time our valuable assets are on the ground,” said Akpom. “Instead of sending an entire team of maintainers and an entire team of aerial porters, we were able to cover our bases with a smaller team while keeping the main goal in mind, safely and efficiently executing the mission.”

 A first for the 305th, Akpom hopes it’s certainly not the last and instead serves as a precursor of more innovation to come.

“When building the curriculum for our training, I was fortunate enough to work with a point of contact at another base to bounce ideas off of in terms of what a lesson plan should look like,” said Akpom. “From that collaboration, we were able to formulate our curriculum which in turn is now being shared with installations across the country. This is all to say that what we started here with the MCA Rodeo may also be expanded upon and allow our reach to extend beyond the 305th AMW.”

While only one team could be declared the winner, all involved now serve as part of a decisive mobility force of the future. Their experience with this event will help develop more Mobility Airmen, a Warrior Culture, and ultimately deliver victory over challenges now and those yet to come.