JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-CAMP BULLIS, Texas --
Air Force Reserve Command defenders participated in the 2018 Defender Challenge competition Sept. 10-13, 2018 here. Security forces personnel from 12 U.S. Air Force teams, and international partners from German and a Great Britain joined in the competition to test each team’s ability to work together in three events. These events consisted of challenges designed to evaluate the team and individual in combat and defense skills.
While many teams in this competition were composed of Airmen from different units within each command, the AFRC team was different in that the entire team was from the 433rd Security Forces Squadron. The Reserve Citizen Airmen, when not participating in a military capacity, are all law enforcement officers in their civilian careers as well.
The challenge started with a meet and greet session, orientation and opening ceremony.
On day two, the teams split into two groups. One group went to the dismounted operations event, while the remaining teams did the combat weapons competition.
On day three, the teams switched events.
The dismounted operations event consisted of a 4.25 mile long course with cross-country and asphalt road portions. There were six challenges, which required the teams to use land navigation techniques to get to the next waypoint. Challenges on this course included tactical combat casualty care, a litter carry, a memory test, and improvised explosive device identification.
The AFRC team found a formidable challenge on the dismounted operations competition.
“The first day was the most challenging.” said Tech Sgt. Hector Zamora, AFRC team leader and 433rd Security Forces Squadron member. “It was difficult because the terrain was uneven. We couldn’t shoot an azimuth and go very far because there was so much brush in the way. Every couple of steps you’d have to stop and make sure you were on the right heading. It was hot, and it started raining again, so it was muddy. It was a long day.”
The combat weapons competition had the teams run a course which included dragging a dummy and shooting targets from a variety of positions with an M4 carbine rifle, M870 shotgun and M9 pistol.
On the final day, the action culminated with all teams participating in the combat endurance competition. This event had the teams run one-quarter of a mile to a position where the team started a relay. Each team member had to perform 25 repetitions of an exercise, then carry two Jerry cans of water 50 meters, and finally shoot a target with an M4 carbine rifle.
Prior to the competition, the AFRC team prepared by training in a variety of tasks and skills. They worked on physical training, ran an obstacle course, practiced room-clearing techniques, and reviewed Air Force policy and instruction for guidance.
“Each day we’d start off our day doing some PT and then head out to the range to get the basics down with the weapons systems.” Said Senior Master Sgt. Troy Mallett, AFRC team captain and 433rd Security Forces Squadron member. “Practicing gripping the weapon, stress inoculation, and target familiarization. After that we’d go into tactics, clearing out a building, worked on some land nav… anything we felt would be a competition event for this Defender Challenge.”
The team members were chosen based on their skills sets, physical fitness, and how they embodied the Reserve Citizen Airman concept.
“It’s a tremendous honor.” said Senior Airman Rick Cardona, AFRC team member and 433rd Security Forces Squadron member. “I was humbled to be considered for the team. I think for everybody there is always that little bit of doubt that is inside of you. (You ask yourself) ‘am I good enough, am I the right person for this? You go on with your training, you press forward and you squash those doubts, you become more and more confident.”
The Defender Challenge has been in hiatus for 14 years. It is scheduled to occur again in two years.
The AFRC team members are:
Senior Master Sgt. Troy Mallett, AFRC team captain and 433rd Security Forces Squadron member
Tech Sgt. Hector Zamora, AFRC team leader and 433rd Security Forces Squadron member
Senior Airman Rick Cardona, Austin, 433rd Security Forces Squadron
Tech Sgt. Francisco Gonzalez, 433rd Security Forces Squadron
Tech Sgt. Mariano Flores, 433rd Security Forces Squadron
Senior Airman Lorenzo Fonseca, 433rd Security Forces Squadron
For placement information, check here: