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RODEO 2009: New competition adds SPICE

Airmen from the 615th Contingency Response Wing at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., put together a SPICE platform as part of an event for Air Mobility RODEO 2009 at McChord AFB, Wash. This is the first year the RODEO has included a timed event for CRW Airmen to establish a SPICE platform.  (U.S. Air Force Photo/2nd Lt. Erika Wonn)

Airmen from the 615th Contingency Response Wing at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., put together a SPICE platform as part of an event for Air Mobility RODEO 2009 at McChord AFB, Wash. This is the first year the RODEO has included a timed event for CRW Airmen to establish a SPICE platform. (U.S. Air Force Photo/2nd Lt. Erika Wonn)

Airmen from the 615th Contingency Response Wing at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., work together to set up a satallite for the SPICE competition at the Air Mobility RODEO 2009 at McChord AFB, Wash. (U.S. Air Force Photo/2nd Lt. Erika Wonn)

Airmen from the 615th Contingency Response Wing at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., work together to set up a satallite for the SPICE competition at the Air Mobility RODEO 2009 at McChord AFB, Wash. (U.S. Air Force Photo/2nd Lt. Erika Wonn)

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Air Mobility RODEO 2009 competition has some SPICE in it for the first time.

Along with the usual montage of scheduled flying and ground events, contingency response wings from McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., Travis AFB, Calif., and Ramstein Air Base, Germany, are also competing to set up the Small Package Initial Communication Element, or SPICE, in a timed event.
The SPICE provides contingency response forces with electronic communications including Internet capabilities, secure and non-secure networks and military telephone capabilities. Because of the need for rapid mobility and immediate operational effectiveness all over the world, these SPICEs are necessary for effective communication anywhere Airmen deploy.

Developed at Scott AFB, SPICE is built on an idea to create a smaller, easier-to-use communications hub for deployed situations. Senior Airman Richard Scott, from Air Mobility Command Headquarters at Scott AFB, works with the SPICE developers and is this year's lead umpire for the SPICE competition.

"Basically, AMC developed a prototype, and the other commands came up with their own versions working off of AMC's example," he said.

"When we deployed for Hurricane Gustav earlier this year, these units were used to bring communication to the Airmen there," said Tech. Sgt. Richard Rubalcava, a competing network infrastructure Airman from Travis AFB. "It's an effective communications platform. It's very helpful in situations where there is no existing network."

This year's competition requires the teams to build a SPICE from the ground up, with no existing structure or network available.

"The entire competition should last less than two and half hours," Airman Scott said. "Network infrastructure Airmen competing in the strenuous competition use the competition as a way to hone their skills. They also receive valuable feedback and lessons-learned that help make them more effective in their career field."

The new SPICE competition, Airman Scott said, shows how RODEO is the place to make things happen.

"The practice and precision demonstrated by the mobility Airmen here directly reflects the job they'll do outside the competition," Airman Scott said. "Our competitors are learning and getting better at not just building up SPICE, but making it better. We couldn't ask for more."