SAN ANTONIO, Texas --
The Air National Guard’s Air Force Defender’s Challenge team, consisting of six Airmen, took third place in the Dismounted Operations component of the challenge and fifth place overall at Joint Base San Antonio - Camp Bullis, Texas, Sept. 11-13, 2018.
After 14 years, the challenge returned with 14 teams from Air Force major commands, and the countries of Germany and Great Britain vying to be known as the best overall security forces team.
“We spend three days testing our foundational tactics for integrated defense,” said Brig. Gen. Andrea Tullos, director of security forces for the Air Force. “We present the teams with weapons skills, physical endurance and mental challenges in scenarios they may come across both in garrison and down range. It’s the full spectrum of our readiness.”
The challenge is designed to test the skills of Airmen in three different areas during the three-day period.
“The first day was a weapons challenge that consisted of a shotgun, rifle and pistol competition,” said Tech. Sgt. Felipe Fernandez, a security forces craftsman with the 147th Security Forces Squadron Houston, Texas, and team member of the Air National Guard’s Defender’s Challenge Team. “The second day was dismounted operations and the third day was a fitness endurance challenge.”
All of the challenges are designed to stress and test the security forces Airmen, but one of the competition areas stood out amongst all of the ANG team members.
“The dismounted operation was the most challenging part of the event,” said Tech. Sgt. Dedrick Baublitz, a security forces craftsman with the 103rd Security Forces Squadron, Windsor Locks, Connecticut and team member of the Air National Guard’s Defender’s Challenge Team. “I got to push myself mentally, to a level I normally don’t get to push to. The guys around me motivated me and I was able to push myself harder because of it.”
Even the Air Force Defender’s Challenge cadre took notice of how well the ANG team did during this portion of the competition, which is a loaded march that includes things such as land navigation, memorization, securing hostages, and tactical combat casualty care.
“I was their assigned team observer, meaning I ran through cradle to grave with the Air National Guard,” said Master Sgt. Steven Kaun, the Air Force military working dog program manager and Defender’s Challenge cadre member. “I couldn’t be more impressed with them, their professionalism, their poise, and their tact. The team ran with only three days of training and did excellent on the course.”
Training for an event like this is tough to coordinate, but that didn’t stop the defenders from the ANG.
“As a team together we spent three total days to train for the event,” said Master Sgt. Jeffery Carter, plans, programs, and investigations lead for the 187th Security Forces Squadron, Montgomery, Alabama, and ANG team captain. “Individually, we all prepared at home and our time in Fort Worth gave us an idea of the things we needed to focus and get stronger on. There was a lot of studying to brush up on the perishable skills that we need to know, but don’t always get to perform.”
Being part of this challenge is a source of pride and even humbling.
“When I met the team I was immediately humbled,” said Carter. “These guys are amazing and they really let you know where you stand. It also let you know that there are people out there that can push you and try just as hard as you do. It has been humbling to watch them perform.”
Taking home third place in the Dismounted Operations Challenge and fifth overall, the ANG members contributed their success to teamwork.
“Coming out here as a team of six, representing the Air National Guard, we were able to exploit our capabilities and knowledge,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Finer, a security forces journeyman with the 124th Security Forces Squadron, Boise, Idaho, and an ANG team member. “The team did great, we were by far one of the best teams out here. The competition wasn’t easy, but as a team we competed very well together.”
“We came together like brothers and we built a great comradery,” said Staff Sgt. Austin Jost, 128th Security Forces Squadron journeyman, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and ANG team member. “We have a great group of Airmen here and I am proud to be standing next to them.”
All the teams are made up of the best security forces members in the Air Force and partner countries.
“All the MAJCOMS sent down the best of their security forces defenders to come down and compete in physical and mental challenges to see who has the most lethal and capable security forces out there,” said Carter.
This is very motivating for competitors and it even motivates those watching.
“It is so motivating to see how motivated the Airmen are and how passionate they are about what we do,” said Tullos. “To watch them go out and give 100 percent effort, not just for themselves, but for their teammates and to be cheering each other on, I know they are going to go back to their bases and tell all those other defenders out there they missed out and that they should be here next time.”
According to a Defender’s Challenge cadre member, there is one thing for sure:
“The Air National Guard is a force to be reckoned with and they came here ready to do business,” said Kaun. “They had one thing on their mind and it was the competition cup. They represented the ANG well and we look forward to seeing them next time.”
The 2018 Air National Guard Air Force Defender’s Challenge Team consisted of the following Airmen:
Master Sgt. Jeffery Carter, plans, programs, and investigations lead for the 187th Security Forces Squadron, Montgomery, Alabama.
Master Sgt. Mathew Quinlan, 124th Security Forces Squadron flight chief, Boise, Idaho.
Tech. Sgt. Felipe Fernandez, a security forces craftsman with the 147th Security Forces Squadron Houston, Texas.
Tech. Sgt. Dedrick Baublitz, a security forces craftsman with the 103rd Security Forces Squadron, Windsor Locks, Connecticut.
Staff Sgt. Jonathan Finer, a security forces journeyman with the 124th Security Forces Squadron, Boise, Idaho.
Staff Sgt. Austin Jost, 128th Security Forces Squadron journeyman, Milwaukee, Wisconsin