After three days of grueling competition in austere environments, Pacific Air Forces bested 13 other U.S. and international security forces teams to capture the Air Force Defender Challenge Championships, held Sept. 10-13 at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis.
The PACAF team totaled the most combined points in several events, which included realistic weapons scenarios, simulated dismounted operations and combat endurance.
“The competition tested the very same skills Defenders may need to employ on any day at any air base in any area of responsibility,” said Brig. Gen. Andrea Tullos, Air Force Director of Security Forces. “They were placed under stress and needed to shoot, move and communicate with their fire team. They were required to maneuver as a team and come upon diverse scenarios requiring them to observe, orient, decide and act.”
Tullos presented the trophy to the winning team at an awards ceremony Sept. 13. Addressing the crowd of competitors, cadre, support staff and distinguished guests, the general said, “We will continue to challenge you and surprise you in future Defender Challenge competitions.”
Airman 1st Class Curtis Covington, a member of the PACAF team, said the experience was amazing despite being difficult and challenging.
"There were some hiccups but it was just the things you have happen in these kind of scenarios,” he said. “You have to be used to adapting; just keep pushing through, not letting it get to you or getting discouraged."
Defender Challenge included 14 four-person security forces teams from 12 Air Force major commands, a team from the United Kingdom Royal Air Force and a team from the German Air Force.
Defender Challenge traces its origins to 37 years ago when Headquarters Air Force Office of Security Police first held an international defender’s competition. Defender Challenge returned this year following a 14-year hiatus. The RAF team had held the trophy since winning the last Defender Challenge in 2004.
Prior to the competition, Tullos noted the scenarios would determine the most lethal and most ready team, while increasing the competitive spirit and competency of all participants. The event reinforced Defender ethos and tapped into the competitive nature within security forces and among all ground combat forces, she said.
PACAF won the Defender Challenge title by taking first in the weapons competition and placing second in the dismounted operations challenge. Air Combat Command finished second and Air Force Materiel Command placed third.
By winning the weapons competition, PACAF displayed the highest marksmanship skills of all teams in that category and received the Coleman Cup, named after Brig. Gen. Richard Coleman, former U.S. Air Force Security Forces Center director of security forces and commander from 1997 to 2000. The team from ACC took second in the weapons competition followed by Air Force Space Command in third.
Air Mobility Command won the Sadler Cup. The award is presented to the top team in the dismounted operations challenge. PACAF and the Air National Guard finished second and third respectively in that challenge.
In the combat endurance relay event, the German Air Force came out on top followed by ACC in second and AMC in third.
The Top Shot Award, presented to the top three security forces members for mastering marksmanship skills. Staff Sgt. Benjamin Rodriguez of the Air Force District of Washington placed first; Senior Airman David Hightower of Air Education and Training Command finished second; and Covington took third.
Lance Cpl. Adam Butler of the RAF team won the Outstanding Defender Award for demonstrating exceptional leadership throughout the competition.