ATSO Rodeo: Rounding up the 552nd ACW, 72nd ABW

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE -- Real-world taskings this year have taken the place of Operational Readiness Exercise "fun and games" as the 552nd Air Control Wing deployed its Airmen to support Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.
   Two exercises were cancelled since the deployment so this time around the 552nd ACW Inspector General office decided to take a new approach known as the ATSO (Ability to Survive and Operate) Rodeo.
   "We decided to put this event together to train all 4,000 wing members instead of the normal 100 we select for the ORE," said Kelly Van Etten, event overseer in the IG office. "We wanted to do all this [training] while still having a good time."
   The ATSO Rodeo incorporates friendly competition with essential training. It covers areas such as chemical decontamination while wearing full chemical protection gear, Self-Aid Buddy Care and a mystery "final challenge."
   "According to the last five Phase II ORE, we (IG) have discovered the 552nd doesn't perform well in ATSO," Ms. Van Etten said. "This gives us a chance to improve in all areas of ATSO."
   Each team consisted of four Airmen from each squadron of the 552nd ACW as well as teams from the 72nd Air Base Wing. Rules included details covering team ties, disqualifications and any last-minute rule challenges - and the IG office held final authority in all areas. During the competition, wing leaders frequently encouraged the use of the Airman's Manual to guide Airmen during each event.
   The Rodeo winners, MXS - with a total of 2,786 points and received a big, shiny, first-place Texas-style belt buckle.
   "This has been a lot of fun," said Staff Sgt. Joshua Lemke, a participant from the 552nd Maintenance Operations Squadron. "We should do this for all our exercises! Airmen are learning important military training and having fun while doing it."