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Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | Aug. 31, 2023

Security Forces Airmen gear up for first Defenders Challenge since pandemic pause: 'Don’t call it a comeback'

By Airman 1st Class Matthew-John Braman, 316th Wing Public Affairs

Defenders from across the National Capital Region honed their skills in preparation for the 2023 Defender’s Challenge, Aug. 28-30. The training and tryout sessions were geared towards the upcoming larger competition at Fort Bliss, Texas, scheduled for Oct. 23-27, that pits major command teams against each other during tests of physical endurance and core operational skills.

This event marks its return after a hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the sessions allowed the Defenders to come together to build camaraderie and teamwork through competition.

“I’ve always tried to be a part of things where camaraderie is a big factor,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Tyler Arevalo, 816th Security Forces Squadron executive aircraft security Raven. “The Defender Challenge is a perfect example of that.”

The tryouts assessed participants' physical and mental prowess, aiding team leaders in selecting the five most well-rounded members to represent the Air Force District of Washington.

“I want to thank my team for all their hard work making this seamless, and to the competitors for giving their all these last three days,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Julius Taylor, 316th Security Forces Group chief of weapons and tactics. “I am happy my commander allowed me to assemble the best defenders available to make the team."

The events consisted of an 8-mile ruck, a shooting competition, a combat fitness challenge, a combatives evaluation, a written 45-question test and keep-in-memory games.

“I decided to try out for the Defender Challenge because I saw it as an opportunity to test and push myself against some of the top people in my career field,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Samson Rasay, 816th Security Forces Squadron executive aircraft security Raven. “When the going gets tough, that’s when you find out who you really are.”