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Reserve Citizen Airmen participate in Defender Challenge 2018

The Air Force Reserve Command Defender Challenge team and event cadre run to the finish line to complete the first day’s competition Sept. 11, 2018 at Camp Bullis Military Training Reservation, Texas.

The Air Force Reserve Command Defender Challenge team and event cadre run to the finish line to complete the first day’s competition Sept. 11, 2018 at Camp Bullis Military Training Reservation, Texas. This was the dismounted operations competition, a 4.25 mile long course that challenged teams with several stages including land navigation, tactical combat casualty care, a litter carry, a memory test, and improvised explosive device identification.

Air Force Reserve Command Defender Challenge Team Members Senior Airman Rick Cardona (left), and Tech Sgts. Francisco Gonzalez, and Hector Zamora, team leader, perform room-clearing exercises at Camp Bullis Military Training Reservation, Texas, Sept. 7, 2018.

Air Force Reserve Command Defender Challenge Team Members Senior Airman Rick Cardona (left), and Tech Sgts. Francisco Gonzalez, and Hector Zamora, team leader, perform room-clearing exercises at Camp Bullis Military Training Reservation, Texas, Sept. 7, 2018. The team was training for the Defender Challenge competition. The challenge consisted of events designed to evaluate the team and individual in combat and defense skills.

Tech Sgt. Hector Zamora, Air Force Reserve Command Defender Challenge team leader, performs 25 repetitions of lifting the ammo can as the first portion of his relay in the combat endurance event Sept. 13, 2018 at Camp Bullis Military Training Reservation, Texas.

Tech Sgt. Hector Zamora, Air Force Reserve Command Defender Challenge team leader, performs 25 repetitions of lifting the ammo can as the first portion of his relay in the combat endurance event Sept. 13, 2018 at Camp Bullis Military Training Reservation, Texas. In this event, each team member completed a different callisthenic exercise, carried Jerry cans filled with water for 50 meters and then shot at a target with an M4 carbine rifle.

Senior Airman Lorenzo Fonseca, Air Force Reserve Command Defender Challenge team member, performs 25 repetitions of jumping from the ground to the box during the combat endurance relay Sept. 13, 2018 at Camp Bullis Military Training Reservation, Texas.

Senior Airman Lorenzo Fonseca, Air Force Reserve Command Defender Challenge team member, performs 25 repetitions of jumping from the ground to the box during the combat endurance relay Sept. 13, 2018 at Camp Bullis Military Training Reservation, Texas.

Senior Airman Lorenzo Fonseca, Air Force Reserve Command Defender Challenge team member, carries Jerry cans filled with water 50 meters from the starting point to the next station where he will attempt to shoot a target with an M4 carbine rifle during the combat endurance relay Sept. 13, 2018 at Camp Bullis Military Training Reservation, Texas.

Senior Airman Lorenzo Fonseca, Air Force Reserve Command Defender Challenge team member, carries Jerry cans filled with water 50 meters from the starting point to the next station where he will attempt to shoot a target with an M4 carbine rifle during the combat endurance relay Sept. 13, 2018 at Camp Bullis Military Training Reservation, Texas. The team’s theme song was blaring, and event support personnel were firing blank rounds from rifles and setting off booming charges to help build the environment of excitement.

Tech Sgt. Francisco Gonzalez, Air Force Reserve Command Defender Challenge team member, runs from the calisthenics area to the next station where he will fire an M4 carbine rifle during the combat endurance relay Sept. 13, 2018 at Camp Bullis Military Training Reservation, Texas.

Tech Sgt. Francisco Gonzalez, Air Force Reserve Command Defender Challenge team member, runs from the calisthenics area to the next station where he will fire an M4 carbine rifle during the combat endurance relay Sept. 13, 2018 at Camp Bullis Military Training Reservation, Texas.

Tech Sgt. Francisco Gonzalez, Air Force Reserve Command Defender Challenge team member, fires an M4 carbine rifle at the Brain in a Box during the combat endurance relay Sept. 13, 2018 at Camp Bullis Military Training Reservation, Texas.

Tech Sgt. Francisco Gonzalez, Air Force Reserve Command Defender Challenge team member, fires an M4 carbine rifle at the Brain in a Box during the combat endurance relay Sept. 13, 2018 at Camp Bullis Military Training Reservation, Texas.

Air Force Reserve Command Defender Challenge Team Member Senior Airman Rick Cardona, climbs over the “Inverted Wall” obstacle at the Camp Bullis Military Training Reservation, Texas, Sept. 6, 2018.

Air Force Reserve Command Defender Challenge Team Member Senior Airman Rick Cardona, climbs over the “Inverted Wall” obstacle at the Camp Bullis Military Training Reservation, Texas, Sept. 6, 2018. The team was training for the Defender Challenge competition.

Air Force Reserve Command Defender Challenge Team Members Tech. Sgt. Mariano Flores, Senior Airman Rick Cardona, and Tech Sgt. Francisco Gonzalez, navigate the “Tough Nut” obstacle at the Camp Bullis Military Training Reservation, Texas, Sept. 6, 2018.

Air Force Reserve Command Defender Challenge Team Members Tech. Sgt. Mariano Flores, Senior Airman Rick Cardona, and Tech Sgt. Francisco Gonzalez, navigate the “Tough Nut” obstacle at the Camp Bullis Military Training Reservation, Texas, Sept. 6, 2018. The team was training for the Defender Challenge competition. The challenge consisted of events designed to evaluate the team and individual in combat and defense skills.

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-CAMP BULLIS, Texas -- Reserve Citizen Airmen defenders participated in the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge competition Sept. 10-13, here. Security forces personnel from 12 U.S. Air Force teams, and international partners from Germany and 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 the 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. When not participating in a military capacity, the team members are civilian law enforcement officers 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 were:

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