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April 24, 2015 at 11:07am

Air Mobility Command cancels 2015 Rodeo at McChord Field

Swarner Communications - publisher of the Ranger and Northwest Airlifters newspapers serving Joint Base Lewis-McChord and regional active, reserve and retired military - has always been a big part of McChold Field hosted Air Mobility Rodeos - the biennial, international airlift competition hosted by the United States Air Force Air Mobility Command. We published the daily newspapers serving the Rodeo, sponsored Rodeo events and, of course, covered the event. Unfortunately, this year's Rodeo scheduled at McChord Field has been canceled.

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Air Mobility Command announced today that the 2015 Rodeo readiness competition, which was scheduled to take place at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in August, has been canceled.

General Darren McDew, AMC commander, decided to cancel the competition largely because of the high current operations tempo for mobility Airmen and budget constraints.

"During these challenging times, we need to be good stewards of our very limited funds and our Airmen's time," McDew said. "It's unfortunate, but given the circumstances, this is the right decision. We're looking forward to the possibilities of tailoring future Rodeo events, to ensure we're getting the most training and international partnership building value from this event."

It is not the first time Rodeo has been canceled for budgetary or operational tempo reasons. In both 1988 and 2013, Rodeo was cancelled due to budgetary shortfalls, and 2003 was canceled because of worldwide commitments for the Global War on Terror and humanitarian efforts. The last Rodeo event was held at JBLM in July 2011.

"An event of this magnitude could not be successfully completed without the strong relationships built together with our community partners and businesses that support Joint Base Lewis-McChord," said Col. David Kumashiro, 62nd Airlift Wing commander. "We value and appreciate our continued partnerships and very much look forward to the day when we can bring this event back to JBLM and our surrounding communities."

Rodeo competitions are held to train and improve the abilities of U.S. and international partners' air mobility operations skills while building international relationships.

September 10, 2014 at 8:52am

McChord Field honors National POW/MIA Recognition Day with a week of activities

National POW/MIA Recognition Day is Friday, Sept. 19.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day is Friday, Sept. 19, but at Joint Base Lewis-McChord - McChord Field the respects begin Sept. 15 at Memorial Grove and conclude Sept. 19 at The Club at McChord Field Ballroom. The annual recognition is to remember and honor those who have sacrificed so valiantly for their country.

The week of recognition starts at 11 a.m. with a wreath laying ceremony at McChord Field's Memorial Grove - honoring and paying respects to all POW/MIAs, past and present. If bad weather ensues the ceremony will be moved into the adjacent building.

Motorcyclists will gather at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 16 at Memorial Grove for their annual ride. Last year this was one of the more popular motorcycle rides in the Northwest. It presents a chance for veterans to meet new friends and renew acquaintances with old ones.

People looking for something more physically energetic can meet at 8 a.m. Sept. 17 for a 24-hour Memorial Run at the McChord Field Track. It's open to all members of the JBLM community. This is a fundraising event. For more information, call 253.982.3339.

The week of events winds up Sept. 19 for a POW/MIA luncheon at The Club at McChord Field Ballroom. RSVP required. For information, call 253.982.7161.

In Viet Nam, 2,338 military personal were originally listed as missing in action. Over the years some bodies have been identified leaving 1,875 military personnel still unaccounted for. It is a tradition for Americans to recover their dead but due to the difficult terrain in Viet Nam, bodies were often challenging to locate. Military personnel just yards apart often disappeared into the jungle and foliage.

Numbers of POWs were relativity small in Viet Nam given the size of the forces employed. The Vietnamese held 766 military personal in captivity, the largest number being pilots and crewmen downed over Hanoi. While in prisons, 114 died of wounds. The small number of captured was more a result of logistics rather than brutality. Guerilla forces, often moving fast and light, had no capacity to take prisoners and captives were often eliminated. 

Remembering MIAs and POWs has become a tradition. JBLM-McChord Field is proud to host the events.

September 9, 2014 at 7:50am

Tuesday Morning Joe: ISIS in US, Homeland Security vs Ebola, US military brain drain, atmospheric CO2 at high ...

An Afghan National Police-Provincial Response Company member readies a coffee pot before other PRC members enter a simulated room during a training session at Forward Operating Base Kutschbach, Afghanistan. Original photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph Swafford

GRAB A COFFEE POT AND READ THE MORNING REPORT FOR 9.9.14 >>>

President Obama will go on the offensive against the Islamic State group with a broader counterterror mission than he previously has been willing to embrace.

Degrading, defeating and destroying the Islamic State.

A longtime CIA operative in the Middle East - whose sources are probably as good as you can get - says "I have been told with no uncertainty there are ISIS sleeper-cells in this country."

Helped by the United States and Iran, Kurdish forces and Shi'ite militia are finally beating back Islamic State militants. But the aftermath illustrates the unintended consequences of the U.S. air campaign against Islamic State.

Iran has detained three foreigners suspected of trying to join ISIS forces in neighboring Iraq.

A spokesman for Steven Sotloff's family told CNN the journalist was captured by "so-called moderate rebels" in Syria then sold to ISIS

U.S. and China discuss avoiding military incidents.

U.S. officials believe Russia may have tested a ground-launched cruise missile in violation of the 1987 Soviet-American treaty.

Not Good: A federal investigation has found that Homeland Security is totally "ill-prepared" for something like the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic - or something worse, such as a global Ebola outbreak.

By The Numbers: U.S. military brain drain.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald launches 100-day VA reform plan.

U.S. House could vote this week to avert government shutdown.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he plans to forge ahead with bureaucratic Pentagon reform initiatives despite the uptick of global threats and military activities in recent months.

"Aurora Monsoon" was the first-ever platoon-level bilateral exchange between soldiers of the U.S. Army and the Bangladesh army at the Rajendrapur Cantonment Area near Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Steadfast Javelin II was a large-scale, joint, multinational exercise held on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, which included aircrew from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

DARPA released a video of what its engineers have in mind for its next generation armored vehicle.

Taxpayers cover Coast Guard private-party patrols.

The U.S. Air Force is bringing back its "Aim High" advertising slogan after a 15-year hiatus with the launch of the "I am an American Airman" recruiting campaign Sept. 8.

All eyes in the tech world are turning to Cupertino, California, today as Apple makes its biggest product announcements of the year.

One For The Record Books: Maibam Itomba Meitei has spent 14 years perfecting his record - the most consecutive pinky pullups!

Bad trip: This man pulls out of his garage and straight into a tornado.

Atmospheric CO2 increases have hit a 30-year high.

List: Top earning authors of 2014.

Finally: The size of dinosaurs compared to airplanes, visualized.

Dagnabbit kids!

LINK: Original photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph Swafford

August 25, 2014 at 6:53pm

Arrowhead soldiers and 62nd Airlift Wing airmen move quick at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Soldiers with 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, load onto a C-17 aircraft during a training exercise at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Aug. 21. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Justin Naylor

As they sat inside the troop holding area, you could tell it had been a long two days. Now they were waiting to wrap up the last event to prove that all their practice and hard work had paid off. All they needed to do was load their Stryker vehicles onto C-17 aircraft and it was mission complete.

Soldiers with Company A, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, took part in a combined training exercise with airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Aug. 21-22.

The event was designed to test the readiness and quick response of the soldiers as they paired up with airmen.

The two-day event began with a pre-dawn phone call from leaders to their soldiers informing them that it was time to go. They then assembled and checked their equipment. soldiers who stayed in the barracks closed out their rooms and those with vehicles turned them in to the storage lot.

>>> U.S. Army Sgt. Kierra Ivey, an administrative clerk with 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, takes part in a readiness training exercise at JBLM, Aug. 21. The event was designed to allow a platoon-sized group of Soldiers to practice going through the steps leading up to a short-notice deployment. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Justin Naylor

From there they went through the motions of a short-notification rapid deployment as they readied their gear and moved it to the airfield to be loaded onto an aircraft.

This event was the culmination of months of hard work and rehearsals that began at the ground floor.  

"We started at the basic level," said 2nd Lt. Clayton Shillings, a Houston native and platoon leader with A Co. "Every soldier was qualified on their respective weapon system. After that we went to Yakima (Training Center) for two weeks. We went into team live fire and each team was certified."

The training progressed through squad, platoon and company levels before the soldiers returned to JBLM. They then began their practices for this particular event.

"There was a whole bunch of rehearsals," said Capt. Bradley Goodyear, a York, Pa., native and A Co. commander. "We did rehearsals at the division, brigade, battalion and company levels. We did tabletop exercises; we actually did a terrain model all leading up to this."

The training and drills were all designed to help soldiers and leaders feel confident about the process.

"If the first time you do it is the actual call to go to war, the chances of something happening that you are not prepared for are high, so we do rehearsals to prepare ourselves...to work out any kinks," Goodyear said. "The more and more we do this, the more little things we find that we can tweak to make the whole process more efficient."

The practice beforehand helped the soldiers progress quickly through the two days worth of training events as they continually outperformed set timelines.

"It definitely paid off," Shillings said. "Everything went very smoothly to the point where we had more downtime than we thought we would. What that insures is that every level - including our own - is that we can tell we are ready to go, all our weapons systems will work when we get there, none of our night vision equipment will be broken when we arrive and everything is mission capable and we are able to execute whatever is given to us at the time."

>>> U.S. Army soldiers with 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, and airmen with the 62nd Airlift Wing, load a Stryker vehicle on a C-17 aircraft during a training exercise at JBLM, Aug. 21. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Justin Naylor

Although the training was just a test for the soldiers, it opened their eyes to all the work that goes into getting an infantry unit off the base.

"I've never really been deployed," said Pfc. Erik Kanthak, a Cincinnati native and medic with A Co. "I've been to Yakima a few times and did the (National Training Center) thing. I think it made us more ready, more aware of what we need to do. I think with this training, now we will be able to do it even faster if we need to."

The soldiers weren't the only ones training during the event.

"I think the entire process will go faster now because the civilians and Air Force, those guys had more practice," Shillings said. "They had a lot of hand on training with some news guys that the Air Force was training while we were doing this operation and those guys took a while to get the Strykers tied down exactly right, which was good because they needed the practice, and I think now they've got it down to the point where they can be faster next time and everything will go smoother."

As the soldiers loaded the final Stryker and took their seats on the C-17, they knew that two days of hard work and months of training beforehand had paid off.  They are fast and ready for any mission that comes their way.

Staff Sgt. Justin Naylor is with the 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs.

>>> A U.S. Air Force airman with the 62nd Airlift Wing guides a Stryker vehicle onto a C-17 aircraft during a training exercise at JBLM. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Justin Naylor

March 18, 2014 at 1:51pm

Army and Air Force at Joint Base Lewis-McChord teamed up Monday

For the first time since 2006, the Air Force and Army at Joint Base Lewis-McChord partnered this week for a joint training on the rapid air deployment of the Stryker.

About 25 Strykers were flown from McChord Field on C-17s to the airport at Moses Lake. The Strykers were then driven to the Yakima Training Center for a three-week exercise.

"The bottom line is this is a great opportunity," Maj. Reed Burggrabe said, a battalion operations officer in the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. "And it can only be done at this location."

With the military's mission focus shifting from the Middle East to the Pacific, JBLM's preparedness for moving an early entry force becomes a focus. That requires being air mobile, a readiness to load and ship armored vehicles.

"To be an early entry means you have to be air mobile," Burggrabe said. "So, we're able to deploy by air to get where we need to go. It gets us in quickly."

It's a concept that hasn't been practiced because the armored vehicles in the Middle East were already in position for use.

"Our focus has been on OIF and OEF for a long period time," Burggrabe said. "Now, we're moving our focus to the Pacific and this is an opportunity to work those roles and build the relationships."

The partnered training Monday and Tuesday at JBLM prepared soldiers and airmen for rapid deployment in support of the Pentagon's shift to the Pacific Theater of Operations.

"This is something we haven't done in a while," Burggrabe said. "Each day we're getting better and better."

The 2-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, the 7th Infantry Division and the 62nd Airlift Wing partnered in this training.

Depending on how much other equipment is loaded, a C-17 can carry two or three Strykers. Since the state DOT requires two Humvees to escort a Stryker on the highways, about 50 Humvees were also transported.

"You can learn it in a classroom," Burggrabe said. "But you can't actually do it until you do it."

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