DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Nine two-defender teams assigned to the 7th Security Forces Squadron competed in the annual Top Defender competition at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, March 31, to showcase their physical fitness, mental toughness, career knowledge and situational awareness with a variety of skill-testing events.
Senior Airman Jordan Valentine and Senior Airman Lane Renner, security forces leaders with the 7th SFS, stole the competition with a best overall time of 46 minutes, 30 seconds.
“These two [Valentine and Lane] define the meaning of being a top defender, so their victory is no surprise,” said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Cull, NCO in charge of training for the 7th SFS. “Mentorship wasn’t tested in this competition, but these Airmen do that daily in their respective roles.”
Even though there was only one winning team, all 18 defenders displayed grit and fortitude, Cull added. Watching teams complete all of the events was exceptional.
Top Defender started with a 3-mile timed ruck march to the challenge site. Once each team arrived, they completed the following events in order: M-4 rifle accuracy test, active-shooter scenario, self-aid buddy care evaluation, weapons assembly and disassembly race, job-knowledge test, obstacle course, and a 7,700-pound Humvee push. After completing these events, the members finished with another 3-mile ruck march back to the 7th SFS building.
Defenders were equipped with 50 pounds of gear during each ruck march, which is a self-paced hike in military gear to a set location. Many defenders turned the ruck to a run with displays of physical fitness.
The rifle-accuracy test was completed on the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000. The EST 2000, a computerized weapon-training system, displayed targets on monitor for the Airmen to hit quickly and accurately.
The SABC portion tested their combat lifesaving skills on a training mannequin with simulated bullet wounds and bone fractures, which they had to dress and splint.
The obstacle course required partners to drag and fireman carry each other 25 yards. After that was complete, each member carried two 20-pound ammunition crates 100 yards up and back.
Sweat and dirt-filled faces were consistent on the defenders throughout the challenge.
“I didn’t expect this challenge to be as strenuous at it was,” said Senior Airman Joshua Santos, military working dog handler with the 7th SFS. “Top Defender definitely showcased the physical condition defenders need to be in across the Air Force to execute what’s asked of us.”
Santos, along with his partner and fellow MWD handler for the 7th SFS, Staff Sgt. Brennen Fletcher, placed second overall.
The top placing teams will be used as considerations for the next Air Force Global Strike Challenge security forces team. The GSC is a bomber, ballistic missile, helicopter operations and security forces competition between units assigned to the Air Force Global Strike Command.
Defenders have a critical responsibility in securing and defending military instillations and assets worldwide. Competitions, like Top Defender are an opportunity for security forces personnel to display their readiness to adhere to that calling.