KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - Six task forces competed against each other during a Unit Movement Officer Rodeo competition at Kandahar Airfield, Aug. 15, 2012.
The UMO Rodeo competition tested the task forces at five different work stations including on the usage of the Transportation Coordinator’s Automated Information for Movements System II, preparing hazardous material and movement documentation, knowledge of In Transit Visibility procedures, and preparation of cargo for joint inspection at different stations.
“I think we won this and if we didn’t it’s alright, but I know it’s going to be close,” said Sgt. Massinissa Smith, a member of Task Force Lobos as he sat scrunched in between two of his teammates.
Sadly, the waiting game had no end in sight for the six task forces who waited impatiently for the announcement of the winner, but every unit walked away knowing more about the redeployment process.
The goal of the rodeo was to not only provide hands-on experience for future UMO’s, but it was also meant to provide motivation, purpose, and direction to soldiers as they would be tasked to redeploy their unit’s cargo back to home station.
“I have to say this competition has taught me how to become more proficient in doing a good job as my unit’s UMO,” Smith said. “I just want to be able to do the job as best as I can.”
“Throughout the redeployment process, these Soldiers will face a number of challenges so this competition is to help them focus on getting their personnel and cargo home,” Staff Sgt. Nikelcia Addy, a UMO rodeo competition planner, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade said. “Besides all the challenges I think the rodeo is fun because a lot of units will get to engage each other and they can network
with one another after it’s all done.”
Each task force earned a set number of points based upon the combination of knowledge and execution each group displayed during each event, which had to be completed within an allotted time.
Completing the five events isn’t the only fight against time the task forces have to deal with. For UMO’s, the process to redeploy cargo back home starts at least four months before a unit’s transfer of authority.
“As 120 days out its imperative that we use this time to wisely build confidence and tools to all the soldiers involved,” Addy said. “This way everyone within the organization will be better trained to help their unit’s leave faster.”
Members of each task force yelled encouraging words to teammates whenever a representative conducted an inspection on a container, weighed a vehicle, or created a load plan on TC-AIMSII.
“TC-AIMS is a killer because it’s foreign to all of us on my team, but just because we don’t use it on a regular basis doesn’t mean we won’t try,” Smith said. “As long we’re supportive to our other teammates the rest will take care of itself.”
As the last task force completed its last task, a burst of applause broke out signifying the end of the competition. After four hours, all the task forces were forced inside a warehouse to see which task force came out on top.
“You know the competition fosters respect for all the competitors and whether the team wins or loses this competition showed that they’re technically proficient with their task as a UMO,” Addy said. “Still the winner will be scored through a scaled point system by the instructors, so the winning team will get that UMO Rodeo
The cool, calm and collected look on Smith’s face gave the impression that Task Force Lobos must’ve executed all their tasks flawlessly as the soldier listened to the results.
Addy was thrust into the spotlight as she was designated to call out the name of the winning task force. As she stood in front of more than 100 soldiers she yelled out with a loud voice “And the winner by 1.5 points is … Task Force Lobos.”
Smith jumped out of his seat and screamed “Yeah baby that’s how we do,” with his arms raised triumphantly in the air.
After the award ceremony, when asked how did he know his team was going to win, Smith answered “I knew because we’re very competitive and well because we’re Lobos, we’re the best.”
At the next competition other task forces will have the chance to dethrone the champions, but this day belonged to Smith and Task Force Lobos.