News: Rodeo 2011 finance competition 'no easy money'
By Senior Airman Abigail Klein
Air Mobility Rodeo 2011 Public Affairs
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- "Crunching" numbers behind a desk doesn't usually come to mind when people think of Air Mobility Rodeo, but this year financial managers not only competed as comptrollers, they exhibited their skills as airmen.
Air Mobility Rodeo 2011is a international competition that focuses on mission readiness, featuring airdrops, aerial refueling and other events that showcase the skills of mobility crews from around the world, this is the first time in 56 years that Rodeo has included comptrollers.
Though aircraft demonstrations usually draw all the hype, it's important to remember that without money, aircraft would not be purchased, repaired or flown.
"Funding drives missions; without funding you can't get what you need," said Chief Master Sgt. Alberto Castaneda, Rodeo financial management director of operations. "The financial adviser's job is to the help the wing commander to make sure they can accomplish the mission."
The inspiration for the competition came from Col. Mark Brown, the AMC financial management comptroller, who acknowledged that the financial management warfighting capability was critical to combatant commanders. He also noted that the recent increase in operations tempo was at an all-time high as Air Force financial managers take on more joint roles, said Lt. Col. Christopher Abate, Rodeo financial management camp commander.
"The program is based on 'Top Dollar' which was the last financial management specific deployment training program," said Abate. The program went away in 2001 and since then, we didn't really have formalized evaluations for our skill set."
Each group was challenged with 40 financial scenarios per day. The scenarios lasted 10 to 20 minutes and were supported by 40 different role players from all major commands, including the Air National Guard and Reserve, providing total force support team for the competition, said Abate.
"The scenarios can be difficult, but if you know your job, you can figure it out," said Staff Sgt. Jessica Wilson, 60th Comptroller Squadron comptroller.
Their basic military skills were also put to the test, including: self-aid and buddy care, the Airman's Manual, chemical warfare, weapon assembly and fitness.
All skills were put to the test when competitors were challenged in a 2.5-mile confidence course. The course included push-ups, sit-ups, a half-mile run wearing a gas mask, dragging a more than 30-pound bag and assembling either an M-9 pistol or an M-16 rifle.
The winding course filled with hills and turns challenged the Airmen, but it didn't deter their enthusiasm for the competition.
"The course was difficult and not quite what I expected, but we got through it because we're a team," said Senior Airman Katy Ward, 22nd Comptroller Squadron accounting assistant.
Though there will only be one winner at the conclusion of the competition July 29, Castaneda hopes the competition gives the airmen something more.
In addition revitalizing their skills, Castaneda hoped the event gave competitors validation of their training, and helps them realize their warfighting skills are important.