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Vandenberg warriors ready to take Schriever Trophy from Sharks

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Vandenberg is gearing up to blow the competition out of the water at this year's Guardian Challenge taking place at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. Aug. 14 -17. 

Although three out of the four teams have already completed their portion of the competition, the final team, Security Forces, is just beginning. 

The security forces team will face challenges including weapons firing, obstacle course and tactics. The teams will be tested on speed, strength, balance and endurance throughout the tasks. 

"All our Airmen have been training hard for real-world and competition operations," said Capt. Chris Martinez, 30th Security Forces Squadron team captain. "We are prepared and ready to prove we are the best." 

Preparation and training were involved with all the Vandenberg teams for this year's competitions. 

Even though real-world operations were still present while preparing, the teams stayed focused, staying after hours and weekends, if necessary. 

The 76th Helicopter Squadron competed against Malmstrom, Minot and F.E. Warren AFB's helicopter squadrons May 8-12. They performed several tasks testing their expertise and teamwork in the air. One situation the helicopter teams were tested on was how well they navigated during the hover course carrying a bucket of water. At the end of the course, the water loss was measured and points were subtracted depending on the amount of water lost in each team's bucket. 

The 30th Operations Group competed against the 45th Space Wing Sharks from Patrick AFB, Fla. May 12. 

The teams were given approximately two hours to execute a successful spacelift operation at their respective bases. The test included everything from minor to major anomalies, mishaps and other operational snags. 

"Our team performed outstanding," said Capt. Carl Driver, 2nd Range Operations Squadron mission flight control officer for Guardian Challenge. 

"The hard work from our trainers and competitors paid off. We performed like a well-oiled machine and everyone brought their A game." 

The 30th Launch Group also competed in May. The launch group portion of the challenge changed dramatically due to this being the first year the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle was used. The teams, both Vandenberg and Patrick, had to show proficiency and expertise in Delta IV operations, as well as completing two academic tests. 

Competition results won't be announced until Aug. 17, but Staff Sgt. Najja Williams from the 30th Launch Group team has great confidence that Vandenberg will bring home the title. 

"Florida better get ready for Hurricane Vandenberg, because the great depression is coming" said Sergeant Williams, 30th Launch Support Squadron facilities maintainer. "The 30th Space Wing teams are going to hurt some feelings and send the competition home broke." 

Guardian Challenge finals will be a weeklong event to showcase Air Force Space Command's best of the best. 

"Our launch, range and expeditionary operations prove that we have the best of the best at Vandenberg," said Col. Jack Weinstein, 30th Space Wing commander. "The competition will prove no different."