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Security forces ready to defend GC trophy

Members of the 30th Security Forces Squadron Guardian Challeng Team practice some of the events they may expect to endure during their portion of the competition.  The events include various weapons and field training.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrew Satran)

Members of the 30th Security Forces Squadron Guardian Challeng Team practice some of the events they may expect to endure during their portion of the competition. The events include various weapons and field training. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrew Satran)

Members of the 30th Security Forces Squadron Guardian Challeng Team practice some of the events they may expect to endure during their portion of the competition.  The events include various weapons and field training.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrew Satran)

Members of the 30th Security Forces Squadron Guardian Challeng Team practice some of the events they may expect to endure during their portion of the competition. The events include various weapons and field training. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrew Satran)

Members of the 30th Security Forces Squadron Guardian Challeng Team practice some of the events they may expect to endure during their portion of the competition.  The events include various weapons and field training.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrew Satran)

Members of the 30th Security Forces Squadron Guardian Challeng Team practice some of the events they may expect to endure during their portion of the competition. The events include various weapons and field training. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrew Satran)

Members of the 30th Security Forces Squadron Guardian Challeng Team practice some of the events they may expect to endure during their portion of the competition.  The events include various weapons and field training.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrew Satran)

Members of the 30th Security Forces Squadron Guardian Challeng Team practice some of the events they may expect to endure during their portion of the competition. The events include various weapons and field training. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrew Satran)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- (Editor's note: This is the fourth in a four-part series on Guardian Challenge.) 

As the smoke clears from the 30th Launch and Operation Groups' Guardian Challenge events, one unit stands ready for the final, grueling campaign. 

The 30th Security Forces Squadron is gearing up for the Air Force Space Command competition May 4-6 here. Their first step was enforcing a rigorous selection process.
Nine security forces members volunteered for the team and were subjected to a three-mile timed run, as well as thorough reviews of their weapons firing and physical fitness scores. Finally, the team coach and team leader looked for those with past Guardian Challenge experience and who were of similar height and weight. 

"We wanted everyone to be pretty much similar in height and weight," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Storms, 30th SFS Guardian Challenge team leader. "That way if there's anything that requires a whole lot of body lifting, like dead-man carries, we'd be able to carry each other." 

Team members were then selected by the 14th Air Force and 30th SFS - four primaries and two alternates. The primary team members this year are Sergeant Storms, Senior Airman Wilson Yabut and Airman 1st Class Jessica Ferrell. Airman 1st Class Mitchell Hursh is an alternate, while it is still being decided who will be primary between Staff Sgts. Mike Junkins and Tony Perez. 

"We have a three-week, rigorous training course that we're going to stick them through," Sergeant Storms said. "It's pretty tough." 

The course, which he created with Staff Sgt. Eric Pelican, 30th SFS Guardian Challenge team coach, incorporates lessons from tactical response force training, as well as Guardian Challenge-specific training. It includes classroom instruction, firing range practice and field work such as urban clearing procedures. There is even time made to get ready for a possible three-mile run competition. 

"With the three-mile run, I want these guys to be ready for anything," Sergeant Storms said. "For example, if they have a (self-aid and buddy care) station, we don't know if they'll use a triage actor, a guy with his guts hanging out, or if they'll just ask us questions and see how fast we answer." 

Training like this is important, because the Vandenberg team is going up against security forces members from across the 14th AF. 

"I want our guys to obtain the knowledge needed to be better than the next competitor," Sergeant Pelican said. "It's truly a challenge, as all security forces members are highly skilled individuals." 

Another challenge is living up to the standards set by Vandenberg's 2006 Guardian Challenge team, who were champions in the security forces competition. 

"As defending security forces champs, we hope to mirror the efforts of our predecessors," Sergeant Pelican said. "But as long as we put forth a solid effort, we will be fine." 

While he spoke of his desire to have a repeat win for the 30th SFS, Sergeant Storms said he hopes everyone involved takes away a sense of camaraderie and a feeling of accomplishment. 

"Airman Hursch is a brand new troop," he said. "I want this to set the tone for his career, so he'll say, 'If I can do stuff like that, maybe there's more.'"