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Incirlik defenders fight for victory

Airmen perform an obstacle during an obstacle course.

U.S. Airmen from the 39th Security Forces Squadron perform an obstacle during an obstacle course in preparation for the 2018 Defender’s Challenge at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, July 30, 2018. The obstacle course was used to challenge the 39th SFS Airmen in a different way in hopes it will prepare them for the competition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kimberly Nagle)

Airmen run to the next obstacle during an obstacle course.

From left, U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jomalier Viera-Martinez, 39th Security Forces Squadron response force leader, and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Santiago, 39th SFS unit training instructor, run to the next obstacle during an obstacle course in preparation for the 2018 Defender’s Challenge at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, July 30, 2018. Both Viera-Martinez and Santiago were chosen to compete for a spot on the 2018 United States Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa’s Defender Challenge team after scoring at the top of all 39th SFS Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kimberly Nagle)

An Airman performs an obstacle during an obstacle course.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jomalier Viera-Martinez, 39th Security Forces Squadron response force leader, performs a workout during an obstacle course in preparation for the 2018 Defender’s Challenge at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, July 30, 2018. Viera-Martinez, is one of the two individuals that were chosen from the 39th SFS to compete for a spot on the 2018 United States Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa’s Defender Challenge team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kimberly Nagle)

An Airmen performs an obstacle during an obstacle course

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jomalier Viera-Martinez, 39th Security Forces Squadron response force leader, performs pull-ups during an obstacle course in preparation for the 2018 Defender’s Challenge at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, July 30, 2018. Viera-Martinez, is one of the two individuals that were chosen from the 39th SFS to compete for a spot on the 2018 United States Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa’s Defender Challenge team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kimberly Nagle)

An Airmen prepares to run an obstacle course.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jomalier Viera-Martinez, 39th Security Forces Squadron response force leader, prepares to begin an obstacle course in preparation for the 2018 Defender’s Challenge at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, July 30, 2018. The obstacle course consisted of several physical challenges ending in running three laps around the track as fast as they can. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kimberly Nagle)

An Airman runs during shooting drills at CATM

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Santiago, 39th Security Forces Squadron unit training instructor, runs during shooting drills in preparation for the 2018 Defender’s Challenge at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, July 27, 2018. Santiago, after finishing at the top was one of the two SFS Airmen who have the chance to compete for a spot on the 2018 United States Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa’s Defender Challenge team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kimberly Nagle)

An Airman prepares to begin an obstacle course

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Santiago, 39th Security Forces Squadron unit training instructor, prepares to begin an obstacle course in preparation for the 2018 Defender’s Challenge at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, July 30, 2018. Incirlik AB does not have an actual obstacle course, so members of the 39th SFS created one using to challenge the competitors in the same manor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kimberly Nagle)

Security Forces Squadron Airmen check their targets after performing shooting drills

U.S. Air Force Security Forces Squadron Airmen check their targets after performing shooting drills in preparation for the 2018 Defender’s Challenge, at Incirlik Air Base Turkey, July 27, 2018. During the drills, points were tallied and used toward choosing those individuals who were chosen to compete for a spot on the 2018 United States Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa’s Defender Challenge team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kimberly Nagle)

An Airman observes shooting drills at CATM

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Santiago, 39th Security Forces Squadron unit training instructor, observes shooting drills in preparation for the 2018 Defender’s Challenge, at Incirlik Air Base Turkey, July 27, 2018. The shooting drills consisted of challenging the SFS Airmen in other ways, such as requiring them to do a work out before performing a drill. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kimberly Nagle)

Airmen perform shooting maneuvers at CATM
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From right, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Dominick Pondant, 39th Security Forces Squadron combat arms instructor assists U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Santiago, 39th SFS unit training instructor during shooting drills in preparation for the 2018 Defender’s Challenge, at Incirlik Air Base Turkey, July 27, 2018. The SFS Airmen who competed for a spot on the 2018 United States Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa’s Defender Challenge team had to train on combatives, shooting skills and physical fitness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kimberly Nagle)

Rounds sit ready to be used for shooting drills at CATM
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Rounds sit ready to be used for shooting drills in preparation for the 2018 Defender’s Challenge, at Incirlik Air Base Turkey, July 27, 2018. The SFS Airmen who competed for a spot on the 2018 United States Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa’s Defender Challenge team had to train on combatives, shooting skills and physical fitness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kimberly Nagle)

Airmen practice combatives
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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Johny Londono, 39th Security Forces Squadron flight sergeant, and U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jomalier Viera-Martinez, 39th SFS response force leader, practice combatives in preparation for the 2018 Defender’s Challenge, at Incirlik Air Base Turkey, July 26, 2018. Viera-Martinez, one of the two SFS Airmen who earned the chance to fight for a spot on the 2018 United States Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa’s Defender Challenge team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kimberly Nagle)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey --

Our U.S. Air Force Security Forces members, or defenders, are charged with the mission of protection. Since September 11th, 2001, all defenders have focused on just that, with protection coming in many forms, whether guarding a gate, patrolling or making runs on a deployment. After 14 years, though, a little friendly competition is needed.

After this long hiatus, the well-known competition among Security Forces Airmen, the Defender Challenge, was reinstated.

Two defenders from the 39th Security Forces Squadron at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, have fought and trained for weeks to showcase their security forces skill sets and fight for two of six spots on the United States Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa’s Defender Challenge team.

“[For the past few weeks] we have been prepping for the 2018 Defender Challenge,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Andre Sanchez-Romero, 39th Security Forces Squadron flight chief. “Due to some of our host nation restrictions, we had to get creative while preparing our defenders to go compete at the USAFE level.”

The two defenders had to test themselves against nine other 39th SFS members by taking a U.S. Air Force physical fitness test, a three mile run with gear and a multitude of shooting trials before earning the slots for a trip to Ramstein Air Base, Germany to compete.

“The end goal [for the defenders] is to showcase their proficiencies that we have in our career field including shooting, combatives and physical fitness,” said Sanchez-Romero. “We were looking for the best of the best.”

After being officially selected, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Santiago, 39th SFS unit training instructor and U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jomalier Viera-Martinez, 39th SFS response force leader geared up and made their way to Ramstein AB where they will compete during the first week for a top 12 spot.

“It has been an awesome opportunity to be able to compete and train at Incirlik AB,” said Santiago. “I am now looking forward to training in Germany to compete for two of the six slots for the USAFE team.”

Even through the difficulties of limited resources, such as limited ruck-march courses and land navigation restrictions, the two defenders feel extremely confident with their odds in the competition.

“I’m looking forward to competing; I want to win. I’m ready to get out there, I’m ready to see what the competition is like, but it doesn’t matter because we are going to go out there and win,” said Viera-Martinez. “At the end of the day, we have been working with what we have, grinding and make the best of what we got, and at the end of the day the results will show.”