MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- “Obtaining additional 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 any moment’s notice,” said President John F. Kennedy during his State of the Union address in January 1961.
The following year seven U.S. Air Force wings participated in the first air mobility rodeo to foster training and hone skills in an atmosphere of competition to help meet the President’s intent of rapid global mobility.
Air mobility rodeos continued for nearly 50 years, often with international participation.
Keeping the rodeo tradition alive, four teams, comprised of 167th Operations Group aircrew and ground support functions, competed in a rodeo, Nov. 5, at Shepherd Field, Martinsburg, West Virginia.
“I wanted to have a rodeo competition first and foremost to create a competitive environment involving the entire group and to have fun with an awards ceremony after the event,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan McCullough. “The unintended benefits-we accomplished meaningful training. I believe we were successful.”
The rodeo competition involved mission generation and execution. The rodeo planners developed a scenario and the teams worked through the events to the best of their abilities, McCullough explained. Crews received intelligence updates as they competed and had to determine how to avoid simulated threats while meeting time on target and location instructions.
Master Sgt. Paul Noel, 167th Operations Support Squadron intel operations, said the rodeo helps build camaraderie among the aircrew and enhances readiness.
“It’s not just a good morale event,” Noel said. “It helps get us prepared for upcoming readiness exercises and helps shift our mindset to doctrine changes and agile combat employment.”
Noel and three other intel specialists provided pre-mission intelligence briefings to the crews, based on fictitious characters and threats and then delivered a last-minute intelligence update on the flight deck of the aircraft prior to the mission launch.
With senior aircrew judging their efforts, loadmasters loaded a vehicle into a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft and pilots were graded on their low-level route navigation, landings and aircraft backing.
The winning team was Lt. Col. John Anacker, Maj. William Goss, Capt. Micah Doebler, Tech. Sgt. Christopher Regalia, Tech. Sgt. Sarah Hall, Master Sgt. Paul Noel, Tech. Sgt. William Trainor and Airman 1st Class Natalie Rowe.