June 8, 2012

ATSO Rodeo to be held

by Robert J. Kaschak
452 AMW Emergency Management

The Ability to Survive and Operate, or ATSO, is a skill-set utilized by military personnel who are deploying or preparing for exercises or inspections. These skills make up the foundation necessary for all Airmen to function effectively in hostile environments. The importance of these skills cannot be overstated, which is why the training is usually more demanding than others. More desirable, less intensive training sessions usually receives higher attendance, placing ATSO training on the back burner.

To raise awareness about the importance of ATSO training and to increase interest among military members, “out of the box” thinking was required. At the request of 452d AMW senior management, Emergency Management flight brainstormed on several ideas, in an attempt to make the training more meaningful and productive. The idea of a rodeo-style scenario seemed appropriate, being a proven success with military airdrop competitions. Having decided on this concept, the EM flight began tasking and orchestrating plans for conducting the wing’s first-ever ATSO Rodeo.

The training event will take place as a “friendly” competition, but the crux of the exercise will be to ensure personnel are thoroughly familiar with the basic concepts of their wartime skills. Like any military training event, practice makes perfect, which is why regularly scheduled rodeos will be of great benefit to the wartime readiness of our members.

Continual exposure utilizing rodeo-style ATSO training will increase the confidence, as well as the knowledge of those expected to perform in an Operational Readiness Exercise or Inspection environment. Hopefully, this type of competition will add an element of fun to the training, with winners receiving bragging rights until the next rodeo. Ultimately all who participate in the action-packed event will be winners because of the additional exposure to ATSO tactics. Results from the training is expected to cement awareness with the intention of generating a cascading effect among other March Team members.

Location of the ATSO rodeo has not been determined yet. Activities will take place over several Unit Training Assembly weekends to include June 24, July 8 and July 22, on Sundays, from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. There will be five judges, who will pick names randomly from each group to compete. Additionally, there will be an announcer to organize and discuss each episode and a timekeeper to ensure events do not exceed 20 minutes to complete. There will be five rounds of activities, covering areas such as changing of M8 paper, donning protective gear to a MOPP 4 posture, drinking in a contaminated environment and map reading. Of course there are many facets to ATSO, but the ones selected by EM are observed in classes and considered to be areas where the base as a whole could use improvement. The final round will consist of a question and answer rapid-fire session and will continue until first, second, third, fourth and fifth places have been determined.

There are a multitude of logistics involved with setting this up a rodeo. Once the location has been determined (possibly Pride hangar), training equipment, connex boxes, bleachers and water will be prepositioned. The EM cadre will be working hard behind the scenes to ensure the rodeo goes smoothly. Participants need to bring their own chemical gear, to include gas mask and arrive ready to complete.

The goal is for everyone to bring good attitudes and a willingness to participate and learn. Everyone will have strong areas and weak ones. This type of exposure will assist in alleviating those weaknesses. We ask all who compete to give it their best effort, take the constructive criticism in a positive vein, and understand that, as a wing, we are only as strong as our weakest link. Represent March proudly. We can do this team!

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