2018 Defender Challenge

Fourteen Security Forces teams from U.S. Air Force major commands, Great Britain and Germany are training to compete here Sept. 10-14 when Defender Challenge returns after a 14-year hiatus.

Air Force Security Forces Defenders
Air Education and Training Command Defender Challenge Team Selection:
(left to right) Senior Airman William McLaughlin, 502nd Security Forces Squadron, Capt. Nathan Spradley, 902nd SFS, Technical Sgt. Cory Irvin, 37th Training Support Squadron, Senior Airman David Hightower, 56th SFS, Officer Jonathan Vance and Master Sgt. James Murray of the 802nd SFS, pose for a photo after being chosen as the representatives of Air Education and Training Command’s Defender Challenge team July 27, 2018, at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. Defender Challenge is a Security Forces competition that pits teams against each other in realistic weapons, dismounted operations and relay challenge events. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sean M. Worrell)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas — 

The competition pits security forces teams against each other in realistic weapons scenarios, simulated dismounted operations and grueling combat endurance events.

The team with the most combined points wins the Sadler Cup, named after Maj. Gen. Thomas Sadler, who served as Air Force Chief of Security Police from 1975-1977. Great Britain has held the trophy since winning it at the last Defender Challenge in 2004.

“We will compete on the fields of friendly strife with the best of the best, familiarize ourselves with how our coalition partners operate when all that matters is who finishes first – before lives are on the line, and continue a Defender tradition, build upon that heritage and give this generation of Defenders stories they will tell and experiences they will share for years to come,” said Brig. Gen. Andrea Tullos, Air Force Director of Security Forces, in her announcement of the competition.

Tullos said the scenarios will determine the most lethal and most ready team while increasing the competitive spirit and competency of all participants. It will renew the Defender ethos and reinforce the competitive nature within security forces of all participants, she added.

“The competition will test the very same skills Defenders may need to employ on any day at any air base in any AOR,” she said. “They will be placed under stress and will need to shoot, move and communicate with their fire team. They will maneuver as a team and come upon diverse scenarios requiring them to observe, orient, decide and act.”

Prior to sending the official warning order to competing commands in mid-June, Tullos offered some word of advice in a post on the Air Force Security Forces Association website: “For now, train, train and train. Take each lesson you learn every day defending your air base and ask yourself, ‘How can I do it better?’”

She said the return of the event will help develop more lethal and capable security forces Airmen.

“We need to stimulate competition in every squadron so that every new Defender who arrives from Lackland wants to be a more proficient shooter, wants to master our tactics, techniques, and procedures, and wants to represent their squadron and their Major Command at Defender Challenge,” she said.

Security Forces

Senior Airman Nicholas Rauch, 460th Security Forces Squadron defender, sends a round into a target in preparation for the Defenders Challenge July 27, 2018, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado. Defenders were judged on their accuracy with the M-9 Beretta and M16 rifle during a Defenders Challenge event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michael D. Mathews)

Security Forces

Senior Airman Nicholas Rauch, 460th Security Forces Squadron defender, sweeps a hallway during a field exercise in preparation for the Defenders Challenge July 27, 2018, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado. Buckley AFB defenders trained in simulated situations such as hostage recovery and neutralizing active shooters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michael D. Mathews)

Senior Airman Nicholas Rauch, 460th Security Forces Squadron defender, runs during a ruck march in preparation for the Defenders Challenge July 27, 2018, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado. The ruck march consisted of carrying approximately 40 pounds of gear a total of four miles in under an hour. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michael D. Mathews)

Security Forces

Staff Sgt. Phillip Edwards and Airman 1st Class Austin Cherry, 460th Security Forces Squadron defenders, conduct tactical movements during a field exercise in preparation for the Defenders Challenge July 27, 2018, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado. Select Air Force Space Command defenders will compete against one another at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, and then winners will compete at Camp Bullis, Texas, for the final challenge. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michael D. Mathews)

Security Forces

Security Forces Airmen descend a rope July 23, 2018, at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Texas in preparation for the 2018 Defender Challenge. The competition will pit security forces teams against each other in realistic weapons, dismounted operations and relay challenge events. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer)

Capt. Nathan Spradley, 902nd Security Forces Squadron operations officer, climbs an obstacle July 23 at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis in preparation for the 2018 Defender Challenge. The competition will pit security forces teams against each other in realistic weapons, dismounted operations and relay challenge events.

Security Forces Airmen climb and obstacle July 23, 2018, at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Texas in preparation for the 2018 Defender Challenge. The competition will pit security forces teams against each other in realistic weapons, dismounted operations and relay challenge events. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer)

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Jose J. Sanchez, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Defender Magazine, USAF Honor Guard, Bolling AFB, Washington DC, 416th SFS, Griffiss AFB, NY, 89th SFS, Andrews AFB, MD