Tinker, 3d Herd to host ‘Combat Challenge’

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Even as approximately 17 percent of its Airmen are busy providing deployable communications in austere locations around the world, several other members of the 3rd Combat Communications Group are preparing to host and compete in the upcoming "Combat Challenge" April 16-19 at Tinker AFB.

After a 14-year hiatus, Combat Challenge is being incorporated into Air Force Space Command's "Guardian Challenge," the world's premier biannual space and cyberspace competition.

Guardian Challenge 2010 events are being held at various locations through May 19, but preparations began months ago. The competition will culminate for the winners with a series of events and trophy presentations May 20-21 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

In addition to the 17-member 3rd CCG, or 3rd Herd contingent, also competing in the Combat Challenge will be teams from the 5th Combat Communications Group from Robins Air Force Base, Ga., 162nd Combat Communications Group from the California Air National Guard, the 201st Combat Communications Group from the Hawaii Air National Guard, and the 252nd Combat Communications Group from the Washington Air National Guard.

"After a 14-year absence, the 3rd Herd will resurrect Combat Challenge and host five teams to compete to see who is the best of the best in combat communications," said Capt. John Riester, a member of the 31st Combat Communications Squadron and action officer for this year's competition.

The competition will include team events in communications setup and activation, base defense, physical fitness, marksmanship, tent city construction and self aid and buddy care.

Historically, Combat Challenge was the Air Force's combat communications competition that ran from 1986 to 1996. It tested a unit's ability to rapidly and effectively set up communications in a field environment.

Teams from nine wings and one center, including newly added Air National Guard units, will be a part of Guardian Challenge 2010. Unlike previous competitions, this year's event will include cyberspace forces for the first time, while the missile forces newly transitioned to Air Force Global Strike Command will not participate.

Last year, the 3rd Herd was transferred from Air Combat Command and 12th Air Force to Air Force Space Command and 24th Air Force.

"The 3rd Herd is proud to host the revitalization of the tradition of Combat Challenge under the scope of Guardian Challenge," said Col. Thomas Byrge, 3rd Herd commander. "Combat communications Airmen looked forward to this competition for many years until it was cancelled after 1998 due to high ops tempo.

"This event will be a showcase of combat communications excellence and allow a vital cross flow between both the active duty and the Air National Guards' best-of-the-best. This will give us a chance to show our new (command) what combat communications is all about and show them what we bring to the fight."