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Air Mobility Command wins Sadler Cup in first Defender Challenge in 14 years

Sweat drips from the chin of Senior Airman Anthony Hu, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., 6th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, after Hu endured hour of weapons training preparing him to represent Air Mobility Command in the 2018 Defender Challenge on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Sept. 4, 2018.Hu said he knew the training would be difficult but did not realize how non-stop it would be and how much he would treasure the five-minute breaks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

Sweat drips from the chin of Senior Airman Anthony Hu, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., 6th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, after Hu endured hour of weapons training preparing him to represent Air Mobility Command in the 2018 Defender Challenge on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Sept. 4, 2018.Hu said he knew the training would be difficult but did not realize how non-stop it would be and how much he would treasure the five-minute breaks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kyle Wade, 87th Security Forces Squadron Phoenix Raven, catches his breath during weapons training during his preparation for representing Air Mobility Command in the 2018 Defender Challenge on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Sept. 4, 2018. Wade practiced his shot as a part of a four-week long training that prepared him for competition. The challenge is a world-wide competition meant to test the skills of security forces through weapons scenarios, dismounted operations and combat endurance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kyle Wade, 87th Security Forces Squadron Phoenix Raven, catches his breath during weapons training during his preparation for representing Air Mobility Command in the 2018 Defender Challenge on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Sept. 4, 2018. Wade practiced his shot as a part of a four-week long training that prepared him for competition. The challenge is a world-wide competition meant to test the skills of security forces through weapons scenarios, dismounted operations and combat endurance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

Senior Airman Anthony Hu, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., 6th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, studies his shots during weapons training during preparation for representing Air Mobility Command in the 2018 Defender Challenge on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Sept. 4, 2018. During weapons training, the eight-man team shot at a resting heart rate and then ran around the firing range before immediately shooting again at an elevated heart rate. The purpose was to recognize how differing heart rates can affect shot accuracy and give competitors the tools needed to control their breathing and body movements when experiencing increased heart rates while shooting. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

Senior Airman Anthony Hu, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., 6th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, studies his shots during weapons training during preparation for representing Air Mobility Command in the 2018 Defender Challenge on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Sept. 4, 2018. During weapons training, the eight-man team shot at a resting heart rate and then ran around the firing range before immediately shooting again at an elevated heart rate. The purpose was to recognize how differing heart rates can affect shot accuracy and give competitors the tools needed to control their breathing and body movements when experiencing increased heart rates while shooting. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Luciano Rosano, 421st Security Forces Squadron combat training instructor, fires an m9 pistol during weapons training during preparation for representing Air Mobility Command in the 2018 Defender Challenge on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Sept. 4, 2018. Rosano qualified to be a part of the AMC team for the challenge by running a six-mile run while carrying 25-35 pounds. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Luciano Rosano, 421st Security Forces Squadron combat training instructor, fires an m9 pistol during weapons training during preparation for representing Air Mobility Command in the 2018 Defender Challenge on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Sept. 4, 2018. Rosano qualified to be a part of the AMC team for the challenge by running a six-mile run while carrying 25-35 pounds. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Zachary Everett, Dover Air Force Base, Del., 436th Security Forces Squadron response force leader, shoots an M4 carbine assault rifle during weapons training during preparation for representing Air Mobility Command in the 2018 Defender Challenge on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Sept. 4, 2018. The challenge reactivated after a 14-year hiatus due to mission requirements in the wake of 9/11. “I didn’t know what the competition was before,” said Everett. “It sounded extremely interesting, especially sense I would get to work with military services from other countries, so I jumped on the opportunity.” (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Zachary Everett, Dover Air Force Base, Del., 436th Security Forces Squadron response force leader, shoots an M4 carbine assault rifle during weapons training during preparation for representing Air Mobility Command in the 2018 Defender Challenge on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Sept. 4, 2018. The challenge reactivated after a 14-year hiatus due to mission requirements in the wake of 9/11. “I didn’t know what the competition was before,” said Everett. “It sounded extremely interesting, especially sense I would get to work with military services from other countries, so I jumped on the opportunity.” (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kayla Favor, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., 6th Security Forces Squadron training instructor, shoots an M4 carbine assault rifle during weapons training during preparation for representing Air Mobility Command in the 2018 Defender Challenge on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Sept. 4, 2018. Favor took part in the weapons training as one of the skills practiced for the challenge. The competition has been inactive for 14 years due to mission requirements in the wake of 9/11. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kayla Favor, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., 6th Security Forces Squadron training instructor, shoots an M4 carbine assault rifle during weapons training during preparation for representing Air Mobility Command in the 2018 Defender Challenge on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Sept. 4, 2018. Favor took part in the weapons training as one of the skills practiced for the challenge. The competition has been inactive for 14 years due to mission requirements in the wake of 9/11. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

The Air Mobility Command team for the 2018 Defender Challenge run during weapons training as part of preparation for the competition on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Sept. 4, 2018. The team ran a lap around the firing range to increase their heart rate before shooting to compare their shots from shooting at a regulated heart rate. The comparison helps the team to learn how to control their breathing and body movements for better aim. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

The Air Mobility Command team for the 2018 Defender Challenge run during weapons training as part of preparation for the competition on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Sept. 4, 2018. The team ran a lap around the firing range to increase their heart rate before shooting to compare their shots from shooting at a regulated heart rate. The comparison helps the team to learn how to control their breathing and body movements for better aim. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Ariel Owings)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-CAMP BULLIS, Texas --

Air Mobility Command’s team earned first place for dismounted operations at the 2018 Defender Challenge, which commenced Sept. 11 with a ceremony to remember Sept. 11, 2001 here.


For the first time since 2004, 14 Security Forces teams from each Air Force major commands, Air National Guard, Air Force District of Washington, and nations Great Britain and Germany, competed against each other in a test of their skills through weapons scenarios, dismounted operations and combat endurance.


“The competition will test the very same skills defenders may need on any day at any air base in any area of responsibility,” said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Andrea Tullos, Air Force director of security forces as she opened the competition. “They will be placed under stress and will need to shoot, move and communicate with their fire team.”


This competition was on a 14-year hiatus due to mission requirements in the wake of 9/11 attacks, and an increase in deployments.

The long gap left most security forces members unknown to the world-wide competition, compelling coaches like Carpino from the Air Mobility Command team to allot for long training preparations. The AMC team trained for three weeks prior to the competition on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.


As the teams prepared for the competition, Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Carpino, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida 6th Security Forces Squadron NCO in charge and AMC team coach, said the exact list of what the teams would be tested on were not given out right away so there was no itinerary of skills for which to train.


“We can prepare the best we can across the span of security forces skill sets in training and tactics, but we don't exactly know what they are going to encounter,” said Carpino. “I think we have simulated as much as possible with weather conditions and physical endurance they may experience [in San Antonio], but as far as the actual challenge, we don’t know exactly what the competition will consist of.”


To qualify for the competition, security forces members tried out by completing a 6-mile run carrying 25-35 pounds in under two hours, a shooting stress fire with an M4 carbine and M9 pistol, a CrossFit Hero workout, react to close and far ambushes, an obstacle course and field operations fire team movements. Each team was comprised of four main competitors and two alternatives and selected based on their performance and progression when the teams first began training.


The Pacific Air Forces won the Defender Challenge championship trophy, with the highest accumulated points. Going into the competition, Great Britain had been the standing champion since they won the last competition in 2004.


Communication was an important contributing factor for success when training as a team.


Members of each team came from different bases around the command with different styles of learning and performing. The AMC team, though, had found their flow said the team lead leading up to the first competition event.


“I like my team and how well we mesh together,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Zachary Everett, Dover AFB, Delaware 436th SFS response force leader and AMC team lead. “I’m excited to compete against everybody else, especially against the international forces. It will be interesting to see the strategic performances from the other teams and if they communicate as well as my team.”