Offutt Airmen tryout for the Defender Challenge

  • Published
  • By J.B. Artley
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs

Four members of the 55th Security Forces Squadron tried out for the Defender Challenge Jan. 27, 2020 at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

The tryout was held to assess the defenders' physical fitness, endurance and tactical shooting in preparation for the 2020 Air Force Defender Challenge scheduled for May at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

The Airmen competed in three events throughout the day, they began with the Air Force Physical Fitness Exam, which consists of push-ups, sit-ups and a 1.5 mile run.

Next, competitors completed a six-mile ruck march within an hour and a half while carrying their weapons and equipment weighing a minimum of 35 pounds.

The final event was a tactical stress fire. Contenders performed calisthenics to increase their heart rate before maneuvering to firing points where they used an M-4 carbine rifle and an M-9 handgun in a rapid live-fire scenario.

"It really tests where they're at in their career field and the knowledge of the day-to-day operations," said Master Sgt. Jared Norwood, 55th SFS NCO in charge of training. "A lot of the tactics that we're assessing them on are dynamic as well as they're under stress. So it took a lot out of them and I'm so very proud of all four of them."

Offutt AFB is just one of the many bases holding tryouts where members attempt to earn a spot on the Air Combat Command team. Based on the scorecards ACC receives, they will select who they feel are the best of the best for their tryouts.

If selected at the base level, the Airmen will participate in a two-week course designed to narrow the field down to four primaries and two alternate finalists.

Finalist from each major command will compete in the Defender Challenge as teams will contend for the Sadler Cup, named after Maj. Gen. Thomas Sadler, who served as Air Force Chief of Security Police from 1975-1977.

In 2018, the ACC team finished second overall. Two of the team members were from Offutt a goal the squadron is hoping to repeat, Norwood said. The competition is held every two years.

"I think that would be awesome because I would be with a lot of like-minded people who would definitely push me in the right direction," said Staff Sgt. Vincent Polizzi, 55th SFS Defender Challenge nominee. "I'm definitely looking forward to the training just because it takes us out of our own realm of law enforcement. So we get to see the other side of security forces, which in my opinion is the cooler side."