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AETC security forces announces 2020 Defender Challenge team

  • Published
  • By Dan Hawkins
  • Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – Following a command tryout camp that ended Jan. 31, Air Education and Training Command officials announced  the names of the seven security forces Airmen that will represent the First Command at the Air Force-wide Defender Challenge competition in May in San Antonio.

The Airmen on the AETC team for the world-wide competition include:

·  Staff Sgt. William McLaughlin, 502nd Security Forces Squadron, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston

·  Staff Sgt. Jesse Daniel, 81st SFS, Keesler AFB, Mississippi

·  Staff Sgt. Wilson Brantley, 902nd SFS, JBSA-Randolph

·  Senior Airman Craig Smith, 71st SFS, Vance AFB, Oklahoma

·  Senior Airman Jonathon Hardy, 97th SFS, Altus AFB, Oklahoma

·  Senior Airman Paul Cupp, 42nd SFS, Maxwell AFB, Alabama

·   Airman 1st Class Ryan Franklin, 802nd SFS,  JBSA-Lackland

Selected as alternates to the team were Staff Sgt. Isreael Camille from the 37th Training Support Squadron at JBSA-Lackland; Master Sgt. Sean McDermott from the 56th SFS, Luke AFB, Arizona; and Senior Airman Andrew Vance, a 902nd SFS military working dog handler at JBSA-Randolph.

“Defenders as a whole represent professionalism, integrity and selflessness,” said Col. Leonard Rose, AETC chief of security forces. “These Defenders are just seven of the 2,300 you see within AETC, and they are showcasing just a small sample of our skilled and motivated Airmen.”

The five-day selection camp, with 27 Airmen vying for a spot, included a physical fitness test, M-9 and M-4 weapons firing, the Alpha Warrior obstacle course, a ruck march and a military working dog try-out. 

“Defender Challenge is important because it starts with our heritage; it’s our history and legacy,” said Rose. “It’s also important because we learn from these competitions (things) we may not have learned with our day-to-day operations and training, such as technology or tactics we may only use at night, like utilizing night vision goggles.

A total of 27 Airmen, including five MWD handlers and their canine partners, were invited to try-out for the team.

With winning the world-wide competition as a goal, Rose also noted the opportunity to forward to the field lessons learned during the competition from the identification of gaps in their tactics, techniques and procedures in order to help ensure tactical proficiency before Airmen potentially deploy.

“Of course we want to win and bring the trophy home to AETC,” Rose said, "but as with any training, we want to learn from our mistakes so we don’t make them during real world contingencies.”

To see more photos of the AETC Defender Challenge try out camp, click here.