2020 Defender Challenge

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever
  • 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

“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.”