How does the Air Mobility Rodeo support the fight?

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Rick Martin
  • Air Mobility Rodeo 2011 commander
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.

So 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.

Every Rodeo 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 new standard.


The best part of military gatherings is interacting with people -- friends from previous assignments, reminiscing together about deployments and creating new friendships.

With 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 capabilities.

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.


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.

Most 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.

And because 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 team.

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.

"Obtaining 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 said.

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.