Why a Rodeo?

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Robert Pochert
  • 344th Air Refueling Squadron
Over the next month, Team McConnell will hear more about AMC's RODEO 2009 competition; who is on the team, what is the team doing to prepare, how everyone at McConnell can help support the team and coverage of the competition itself at McChord AFB, Washington from July 19 to 24. This information answers the questions "Who, What and When" of RODEO 2009. Last week, however, I was asked a question by one of our newest airmen, "Why?" Given AMC's push for fuel efficiencies, personnel and budget cuts, it seemed like a fair question that deserved a solid answer, so Airman X, here's my answer...

Our day-to-day jobs of flying missions, maintaining jets and providing a critical support to these activities is a means to an end and not the end itself. The end is to be ready for war. Three times in the last 15 years, the squadron where I was assigned received an order to pack-up and move-out to a location without local KC-135 support. Two of those times were for major combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Each time we were asked to step-up and assume responsibilities beyond what we performed back home. Each time, we were asked to push ourselves harder and faster than we had done before. Each time we got the job done and did it safely; not for a trophy or for an evaluation, but because it was the real deal.

In 2003, I deployed with the 100th Air Refueling Wing to a forward location where we established the largest tanker operation in Operation Iraq Freedom, commanded by McConnell's former Wing Commander, Col. Cathy C. Clothier. Our tanker operation grew from three aircraft to more than 50 aircraft from RAF Mildenhall, Grand Forks AFB and two Air Guard units. We started in an abandoned shack with one phone line, one unclassified computer and one classified computer. When we finished, we operated out of complex of several buildings. We flew non-stop for more than three weeks; with each plane and each crew on the ground only as long as necessary. I flew every day for 22 days. That's war with a capital "W."

My question is how do you prepare for that?

Part of the answer is RODEO. RODEO is part of how we train and grow our forces. It's a way to harness our competitive spirit and push ourselves to be better, faster and sharper. This is the same reason we practiced generating 12 aircraft at one time. This is the same reason we hold fitness competitions; it's the same reason master's degrees, bachelor's degrees, associate degrees and career development courses are important. It's why the Air Force wants people who are driven to succeed in their jobs and people who are driven to better themselves. The bottom line is America needs everyone to be their best today and push themselves to be better tomorrow.
We are approaching the eighth anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. It has been five years since we entered Iraq. RODEO 2009 is part of the way we as Mobility Warriors prepare for future combat operations. So in answer to "Why are we doing RODEO?" I say "To be ready."