Defender Challenge Returns

By BGen Andrea D. Tullos

If I said the words “Peacekeeper Challenge” what would it mean to you? Hmmm…doesn’t ring a bell?   If you vaguely recall hearing something about it “Peacekeeper Challenge” but remember being annoyed listening to the old senior NCOs and Colonels reliving their glory days and then saying “too bad you didn’t get a chance to do that” then maybe we’re on to something. If the term immediately made your heart rate increase and brought back a stream of memories of successfully navigating “dirty names” and the “stairway to heaven” and joining your team at the start of the first event having successfully overcome the RAF Regiment team’s efforts to “prep the battlefield,” then congratulations on making Chief – you’re officially old school.   If I said the words “Defender Challenge” and you said “oh yeah, now I know what you’re talking about” then I think I’ve finally tapped into the full audience.

Well, we’re bringing it back in the Fall of 2018 after a 14-year hiatus. No, not for the Colonels and Chiefs to relive their glory days – for the up and comers. We’re inviting Defenders from every Major Command, our Total Force partners, and our Air Force counterparts from the British Royal Air Force, Canada, Australia, and Germany—as we have in the past—to show up and compete in a series of events for bragging rights, fellowship, and to give us an opportunity to showcase some of the weapons and technology we’re in the process of fielding. We will compete on the fields of friendly strife with the best of the best, familiarize ourselves with how our coalition partners operate when all that matters is who finishes first – before lives are on the line, and continue a Defender tradition, build upon that heritage and give this generation of Defenders stories they will tell and experiences they will share for years to come.

There will be nay sayers – we don’t have the time, we need to focus on readiness, only a small portion of our force will actually get to compete, etc, etc. Well, to those nay sayers, I would ask that you read our new National Defense Strategy and think of Defender Challenge in a new light. We need to compete and we need to win. And we need to do it every day, not just when the enemy forces us to or when our National Command Authority directs us to do so. We need to stimulate competition in every squadron so that every new Defender who arrives from Lackland wants to be a more proficient shooter, wants to master our tactics, techniques, and procedures, and wants to represent their squadron and their Major Command at Defender Challenge. They want to do more than “meet standards” -- they want to raise the standard. They want to return to their home unit as a member of the team that raised the Sadler Cup as the overall victors – named after Maj Gen Thomas Sadler, our Chief of Security Police from 1975-1977.

We realize we’re focused on reconstituting our forces and restoring full spectrum readiness – that’s exactly what you need to do if you want to compete in Defender Challenge. The competition will test the very same skills you might be asked to employ on any day defending any air base in any AOR. You will employ your rifle and handgun. You will be placed under stress and you will need to shoot, move, and communicate with your fire team. You will maneuver as a team and come upon diverse scenarios that will require you to observe, orient, decide, and act – you will be physically and mentally challenged.

We’ll be sending a warning order out soon with details…for now, train, train, and train. Take each lesson you learn every day defending your air base and ask yourself, how can I do it better? For NCOs and supervisors, don’t accept mediocre as the standard. Push your Defenders to learn from their mistakes, compete amongst each other, and use every opportunity to make them better Airmen and better Defenders. A well-led, confident Defender will embrace competition – and they will win.

Defensor Fortis!



#1 RFULTON 2018-05-07 20:38
BGen Tullos' article provided some strong words concerning the importance of combat basics. She spoke of “Move, Shoot, Communicate,” the necessity of doing more than “meet standards,” and a plan to bring back “Defender Challenge” as a means to “restoring full spectrum readiness.” Her words brought back many memories, the way it used to be, and of the challenges of those times … at places like Wheelus AB, located near Tripoli, Libya where we very isolated area and far from any reinforcement, to the Vietnam years and also Korea where the Air Police served well, defending not only Osan and Kunsan but also some remote sites. Defender Challenge will provide challenges. It is preparation to act as a team in a time we all hope never comes, in situations and circumstances that will require far more than just another duty day. BGen Tullos sees Defender Challenge as a vitally important part of preparation. I tip my Ridgeway to you all. Rick Fulton

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