HomeNewsArticle Display

ATSO Rodeo rounds up 552nd ACW, 72nd ABW

Airman 1st Class Chris Reyburn and Airman Christian Sousa, 552nd Air Maintenance Squadron, ensure they perform all required tasks while going through a chemical decontamination line during the ATSO (Ability to Survive and Operate) Rodeo challenge July 13. (Photo by Senior Airman Lorraine Amaro)

Airman 1st Class Chris Reyburn and Airman Christian Sousa, 552nd Air Maintenance Squadron, ensure they perform all required tasks while going through a chemical decontamination line during the ATSO (Ability to Survive and Operate) Rodeo challenge July 13. (Photo by Senior Airman Lorraine Amaro)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- 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 have been cancelled since the deployments began, so this time the 552nd ACW Inspector General office decided to take a new approach - an ATSO (Ability to Survive and Operate) Rodeo competition. 

"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. 

With a total of 2,786 points, the 552nd Maintenance Squadron earned the right to be called Rodeo Champions, and they received a large, flashy belt buckle as proof of their win. 

"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."