Farewell RODEO, Welcome Exercise Mobility Guardian

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Dan DeYoung

For many years Air Mobility Command was proud to host the AMC RODEO—an international competition meant to showcase our collective Mobility Air Force skillsets in an atmosphere of friendly rivalry and esprit d ’corps.  RODEO was always a popular event, and did well to further build relationships and international partnerships while motivating units to hone their skills and bring back honors.  For a variety of reasons, however, AMC has decided to discontinue the old RODEO construct…and in August 2017 will unveil its replacement: Exercise Mobility Guardian, to be held at Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington.

Whereas RODEO incentivized units to take their best performers from across the Air Force Specialty Code spectrum—operators, maintainers, medical and support Airmen—and give them extra “top-off” training to prepare for the competition, Mobility Guardian participants will by design be the “average” Airman, who will be tested to employ his or her skills to accomplish the mission laid out in the exercise scenario.  Training time and dollars will therefore be spent developing the broader force instead of focusing those resources on Airmen who in many ways need them least.

Mobility Guardian will be AMC’s premier exercise, providing an opportunity to “train like we fight” alongside our joint and international partners.  With mission readiness as the ultimate training objective, the exercise is being designed to sharpen our skills in support of Combatant Commander requirements.  The training scenario will include joint forcible entry and airfield seizure…a joint mission between Air Force airdrop crews and Army Airborne units which will take place at locations across the state.  It will incorporate contingency response and humanitarian relief operations—to include aeromedical evacuation efforts.  It will require air refueling, night vision and low level operations, assault zone landings, air drop and formation flying, and coalition interoperations, concurrently executed under multiple lines of command and control.  Combat Air Forces will participate as well to provide a realistic semi-contested environment, requiring planners and crews to flex their tactics training and coordinate with other friendly assets to locate and avoid enemy threats.  In short, the breadth and scope of Mobility Guardian are large and enable realistic and dynamic training for all participating forces.

This design gives AMC an excellent venue to evaluate how well our training has prepared members to date, while simultaneously providing a training opportunity to improve our ability to plan, command and control, communicate, and execute the mission.  Mobility Guardian will more than quadruple the number of missions flown in typical past RODEOs, increasing both the quantity and quality of training.

Mobility Guardian, like the RODEO of past, will help build partnerships.  To date we have 25 international countries who will attend, 13 of which will participate with forces of their own.  Mobility Guardian, like RODEO, will promote esprit d ’corps as teams work together toward common goals in a challenging environment, planning and executing realistic mobility operations that closely model real-world possibilities.  Finally, Mobility Guardian is already shaping up to be a popular event; interest levels are very high and the number of participants is impressive for this first-of-its-kind event.  40 U.S. aircraft will be joined by 20 aircraft from our international partners, along with roughly 3,000 Airmen, Soldiers, Marine and Naval Aviators who will participate in the exercise.  The coming months will be busy, but will be well worth the effort as JBLM Airmen and Soldiers prepare to support the next evolution of AMC’s showcase MAF event.