Trickery and fun are part of competition

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. David Faggard
  • Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

When the Global Strike Challenge 2019 scores post Nov. 20 on the 80 foot by 15 foot blue metal scoreboard in Hoban Hall only one missile wing and one bomb wing will be named “Best of the Best.”

Months of grueling competition will end in victory and cheers for a select few, while the rest return to their Global Strike Command bases with a commitment to work harder and train more for the next two years.

While competitors change and the giant magnetic scoreboard is updated every competition with new unit placards, the heritage and history of the giant blue board remains the same. 

But, where did that heritage originate?

The giant scoreboards were originally used in Strategic Air Command for both the Bomb Competition and the missile competition, then dubbed Olympic Arena. There was a giant scoreboard at March Air Force Base, California, and later at Barksdale Air Force Base for the Bomb Comp scoreposting, and one at Vandenberg Air Force Base for the missile competition scoreposting.

Lt. Col. (ret.) Ray Turek, then a recent Operation Desert Storm veteran, was the Air Combat Command Bomb Competition project officer in 1994 who worked with the Barksdale AFB Civil Engineering unit to re-create the scoreboard based on historic photos. The throwback blue-painted scoreboard is still magnetic and is an updated reflection of an older SAC scoreboard.

The scoreboard was again updated after the standup of AFGSC, and the revival of bomber and missile competition as Global Strike Challenge. And, it is massive. 

The magnetic signs and unit names offer a sense of “great reveal” according to Turek, who now works as Barksdale’s Arms Control and Treaty compliance officer. 

The reveals can’t be fully captured by an electronic display, because of the art and showmanship that goes into the score posting. There’s showmanship, professionalism and flair to “build suspense,” said Carla Pampe, a spokesperson with Air Force Global Strike Command. Pampe has worked Global Strike Challenge since the first one held in 2010.

“You can’t post all the scores in order, because someone might figure out who the winner is before the final trophies are announced, so you have to use some tricks,” she said.

To bring these scores to the masses, a group of volunteers from the command has been working for weeks to ensure the event goes off without a hitch, according to Capt. Melanie Jones, the competition’s score posting lead, who also works in the command’s intelligence directorate.

“We want to make sure we showcase the best of the command in a fun and entertaining way,” Jones said. “It’s a show; we’re going to keep it lively and make it fun to watch.”

The unit signs and scores are poised and ready to be hung, according to event organizers. Event goers will also see newly designed tricks, building off the older historical tricks from the past SAC days.