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2020 Defender Challenge

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jesse Goens, 31st Security Forces Squadron commander, presents Aviano’s 2020 Defender Challenge award to U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Hunter B. Hendrix, 31st SFS member, at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Feb. 14, 2020. Hendrix won second place. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jesse Goens, 31st Security Forces Squadron commander, presents Aviano’s 2020 Defender Challenge award to U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Hunter B. Hendrix, 31st SFS member, at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Feb. 14, 2020. Hendrix won second place. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jesse Goens, 31st Security Forces Squadron commander, presents Aviano’s 2020 Defender Challenge award to Senior Airman Christopher L. Ray, 31st SFS member at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Feb. 14, 2020. Ray won first place. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jesse Goens, 31st Security Forces Squadron commander, presents Aviano’s 2020 Defender Challenge award to Senior Airman Christopher L. Ray, 31st SFS member at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Feb. 14, 2020. Ray won first place. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jesse Goens, 31st Security Forces Squadron commander, presents Aviano’s 2020 Defender Challenge award to U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Marcus Lafleur, 31st SFS member at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Feb. 14, 2020. Lafleur won third place. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jesse Goens, 31st Security Forces Squadron commander, presents Aviano’s 2020 Defender Challenge award to U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Marcus Lafleur, 31st SFS member at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Feb. 14, 2020. Lafleur won third place. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Airmen from the 31st Security Forces Squadron pose for a photo at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Feb. 14, 2020. The 31st SFS maintains installation force protection during peacetime and wartime operations within eight separate base areas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Airmen from the 31st Security Forces Squadron pose for a photo at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Feb. 14, 2020. The 31st SFS maintains installation force protection during peacetime and wartime operations within eight separate base areas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Marcus Lafleur, 31st Security Forces Squadron member, smiles at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Feb. 14, 2020. Twenty-one SFS members participated in 2020 Defenders Challenge which demonstrated endurance, strength, resiliency and tenacity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Marcus Lafleur, 31st Security Forces Squadron member, smiles at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Feb. 14, 2020. Twenty-one SFS members participated in 2020 Defenders Challenge which demonstrated endurance, strength, resiliency and tenacity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

Three full ammunition cans rest on the pavement at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Feb. 14, 2020. Competitors carried ammunition cans in a 400-meter equipment carry during the three day Defender Challenge. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

Three full ammunition cans rest on the pavement at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Feb. 14, 2020. Competitors carried ammunition cans in a 400-meter equipment carry during the three day Defender Challenge. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Hunter B. Hendrix, 31st Security Forces Squadron member, carries one jerry can, and an M240 machine gun at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Feb. 14, 2020. Airmen participated in a 400 meter equipment carry during the three day Defender Challenge. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Hunter B. Hendrix, 31st Security Forces Squadron member, carries one jerry can, and an M240 machine gun at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Feb. 14, 2020. Airmen participated in a 400 meter equipment carry during the three day Defender Challenge. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Dustin Samano, 31st Security Forces Squadron security response team leader, runs during a 400 meter equipment carry at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Feb. 14, 2020. Twenty-one SFS members participated in the 2020 Defender Challenge which demonstrated endurance, strength, resiliency and tenacity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Dustin Samano, 31st Security Forces Squadron security response team leader, runs during a 400 meter equipment carry at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Feb. 14, 2020. Twenty-one SFS members participated in the 2020 Defender Challenge which demonstrated endurance, strength, resiliency and tenacity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy --

“The model defender possesses the qualities that 99% of wyvern defenders exhibit each day:  discipline…in thought and action; physically and mentally ready to conquer the challenges of dynamic operating environments; lethal…superior in tactics, smarter than the enemy, and deadly behind the trigger,” said Chief Master Sgt. Lawrence J. Kirkley, the 31st Security Forces Squadron manager.

U.S. Airmen from the 31st Security Forces Squadron competed in the 2020 Defender Challenge which consisted of rigorous physical challenges and security forces functional challenges.

The event directly supported the national defense strategy by measuring performance of security forces skills and training in leadership.

“In addition to strength and stamina, the Defender Challenge evaluates security forces foundational skills including marksmanship, dismounted patrol competencies, physical and mental resilience, and problem solving,” said Kirkley.

Defenders’ physical and mental grit were tested with a six-mile 60-pound ruck march, three-mile gear run, 400-meter equipment carry, stress firing, nighttime and daytime land navigation, and other physical challenges, said Kirkley.  

Twenty-one Airmen competed in each component of the challenge and earned a total score.

“The winners were determined through a standard ranking system, along with observable instances of leadership,” said Kirkley.

Out of twenty-one competitors, three were chosen to move to the next level.  

“Our three local winners will travel to Ramstein during the month of March to compete against security forces competitors from across [U.S. Air Forces in Europe & Air Forces Africa]. Defenders selected for the command team will travel to JBSA-Camp Bullis in May to compete against all other major commands and participating allied Air Forces,” said Kirkley.

These winners will represent the 31st Fighter Wing and embody what it means to be a Wyvern.  

“It feels good to be rewarded for all the hard work that we put in,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Hunter B. Hendrix, 31st Security Forces Squadron member. “I have never been to Germany and I am excited to go with a good team and represent Aviano.”