Security forces Rodeo teams tested by the best

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol
  • Rodeo 2007 Public Affairs
When it comes to adding realism to Air Mobility Command's Rodeo 2007 security forces tactics competition being held here July 21 through 28, the Airmen testing the competitors are among the best the Air Force has to offer.

The approximately 30 role players and coordination and support staff for the tactics competition come from all over the Air Force. Among the role players are Airmen who are instructors at the Air Force Expeditionary Center at Fort Dix, N.J., as well as security forces leaders from Air Mobility Command Headquarters at Scott AFB, Ill. They are supporting a competition that has 34 teams -- 29 U.S. military and five international teams.

Master Sgt. Michael Steinkraus, an air mobility instructor playing the role as "opposing forces" from Det. 1, Air Force Mobility Operations School at Hurlburt Field, Fla., has participated in Rodeo before as an aircrew member. This time around, he said he is enjoying the opportunity to support and see some of the top security forces teams from across the globe.

"What we're doing is testing the teams on the unexpected," Sergeant Steinkraus said. "This (competition) is about readiness. Their ability to deal with the unexpected is tested on every run."

Coming from the Expeditionary Center at Fort Dix where he works as a security forces instructor, Staff Sgt. Matthew Butler said his experience helps add to the realism of the competition.

"We know what they are supposed to be doing for tactics and we know how to engage as opposing forces," Sergeant Butler said.

Staff Sgt. John Hoffecker, also a security forces instructor working as a role player, said being at Rodeo is an "absolutely remarkable opportunity."

"As a security forces member, I like the fact that I can see the tactics from different security forces teams from across the Air Force as well as those from the international teams," Sergeant Hoffecker said. "It's a good collaboration to see with all the synergy that comes with the teams."

Sergeant Hoffecker added how his experience as an instructor is helping with role-playing for the competition.

"In the today's security forces world, you really have to step outside the old school cop mentality and focus more on people and the whole community -- like being an ambassador," Sergeant Hoffecker said. "Bringing that experience here with the different scenarios they are facing helps me to get into the role and build on the interaction between the security forces teams and the role players."

Master Sgt. Shawn Larkin, the AMC Phoenix Raven program manager and one of the chief umpires for the tactics competition, emphasized the importance of having good role players for the tactics competition.

"They add a dynamic feature to the entire event," Sergeant Larkin said. "If you don't have the right kind of role players, it's hard to simulate real-world situations for us to evaluate."

Tech. Sgt. Bruce McPherson, a security forces craftsman from the 62nd Security Forces Squadron at McChord AFB and an umpire for the tactics competition, said the competition is a timed event and the role players' involvement is crucial.

"Role players perform their roles at critical points," Sergeant McPherson said. "When one is done, it gives the signal for the next person to start their role, and that's how it rolls through the whole process to help push the troops through the overall scenario."

As Rodeo 2007 continues, the role players will work to push the security forces teams to do their best in the Rodeo tactics competition, Sergeant Larkin said. And finding the best is what Rodeo is all about.