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Guardian Challenge: The proud heritage

The patch worn by the first Guardian Challenge competitors in 1994. Guardian Challenge 2010 is faithful to the proud heritage established throughout the competition’s history. In addition to new high-tech competition events GC 2010 incorporates many element’s from history. (Courtesy photo illustration)

The patch worn by the first Guardian Challenge competitors in 1994. Guardian Challenge 2010 is faithful to the proud heritage established throughout the competition’s history. In addition to new high-tech competition events GC 2010 incorporates many element’s from history. (Courtesy photo illustration)

by 1st Lt. Jonathan Simmons

Air Force Space Command Public Affairs

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  — As Guardian Challenge ‘reboots’ for 2010 with a new arsenal of competition events, it’s key for Airmen to remember that this Air Force Space Command’s capabilities competition is, in the words of the Airman’s Creed, “faithful to a proud heritage.”

“Today Guardian Challenge’s high-tech logo is the face of the world’s premier space and cyberspace competition, but GC, has deep roots in Air Force history,” said Col. William Nelson, GC competition commander and AFSPC command lead for cyber operations.

Guardian Challenge can trace its lineage to Strategic Air Command’s (SAC) Missile Combat Competition, which was first held in 1967 and officially nicknamed “Curtain Raiser.” The competition was initially limited to two combat crews, combat targeting competitors and alignment competitors from each wing.

In 1969, the competition was renamed “Olympic Arena,” the name most prominently used over the next 24 years. During this period, Olympic Arena grew in scope to include missile maintenance, civil engineering, security forces and communication competitors. When the Air Force’s ICBM forces moved from SAC to Air Combat Command in 1993, the torch of the competition was also passed. ACC held its only Missile Combat Competition in April of 1993.

AFSPC continues the legacy established by SAC and ACC, but at the same time has taken the competition in new directions. Today’s Guardian Challenge improves readiness and combat capabilities through preparation, innovation, competition and crosstalk.

GC 2010 is a ‘reboot’ of the past with cyberspace forces joining the competition for the first time, while the ICBM forces that transferred to Air Force Global Strike Command Dec. 1, will not participate.

For the first time, GC also incorporates the “Combat Challenge” (CC) tradition. Running from 1986 to 1996, CC was historically the Air Force’s combat communications competition, which tested units’ ability to rapidly and effectively set up communications in field conditions. This year, as part of GC, CC competitions will take place at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., April 17 to 19. CC will include team events in air base defense, Comm site set up, physical fitness, shooting, tent city construction, and Airman’s

Manual knowledge.

Some have asked the question ‘why conduct a competition like this in the middle of wartime?’

“Those who compete in Guardian Challenge represent the best Air Force Space Command has to offer,” said Chief Master Sgt. Todd Small, AFSPC command chief. “But, this is about more than competitors and competition. It’s an opportunity to hone our skills and better prepare us to win the joint fight.”

The first Guardian Challenge competition was held in 1994 and involved AFSPC units from all over the world, including Canada and Australia and representatives from the United States Navy. Members from each squadron competed in the disciplines of space operations, missile operations, missile maintenance and space and missile communications. This year, about 300 people from nine AFSPC wings and one center will compete in events ranging from space operations and cyberspace defense exercises to obstacle courses.

At the May 20-21 GC Awards Ceremony, trophies are awarded to the best wing teams in these mission areas and also to the best operations crews, space communications and security forces individuals and teams. The Aldridge Trophy is presented to the best space operations wing; the Schriever Trophy is awarded to the best spacelift wing; the King trophy is awarded to the best acquisitions wing; The Etchberger Trophy is presented to the best combat communications team; and the Polifka Trophy for the best cyber forces team.

“In each biannual iteration of the GC, competitors strive to improve and refine their skills, techniques and qualities,” said Colonel Nelson. “They compete at various locations around the nation to develop their competition toughness, commitment to ideals, sacrifice, self-improvement, and combat readiness.”

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