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Global Strike Challenge - a medic's perspective

F. E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, WYO -- Recently I had the great opportunity to accompany our F. E. Warren Global Strike Challenge Team to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., home of Air Force Global Strike Command headquarters, for the security forces competition and score posting for Global Strike Challenge.

This was the inaugural Global Strike Challenge, which is a combination of missile and bomb competition pitting the sharpest operator, maintainer and defender teams against each other to determine truly the best of the best. This competition stems from a long heritage of competitive forums such as bomb competitions, which dates back to the 1940s and missile competitions, which dates back to the 1960s. Global Strike Challenge recognizes and rewards excellence and those who excel. As medics do not have such competitions, this was a first for me to experience in my 21 years in the Air Force.

In the words of Smash Mouth - "Hey now, you're an all star, get your game on, go play..."

While the defenders were already in Louisiana getting put through their paces, I accompanied the rest of our team to Barksdale on a KC-135. Traveling on a KC-135 was again a first for me. Although our flight was delayed for many hours due to weather, the team was upbeat. There was an excitement in the air with much talk and reminiscing about past competitions. It was evident traditions and rich heritage ran deep.

Over the next few days we had a full schedule. We cheered our defenders on as they competed in very cold and rainy weather. We had the opportunity to hear some outstanding speakers during AFGSC's first Technology and Innovation Symposium. Several of us were invited to tour a B-52, to go into the cockpit and talk to their crew. Again, this was another first for this old medic. The B-52 we toured was manufactured the year I was born - she certainly had been maintained well, and has been serving our fine Air Force for many more years than I have. Our missileers had an opportunity to talk to their bomber counterparts about their common nuclear mission. Even though they operate in very different platforms, they had much more in common than they first realized.

The competition promoted a culture of excellence. During my time with the team, the competitors and trainers shared their experiences in preparing for and participating in the challenge. From hearing them speak - pride and the spirit of competition was so very evident. These individuals were truly the best of the best with great leaders leading and encouraging them, and enabling them to hone their skills to be the very best.

"All that glitters is gold, only shooting stars break the mold..."

The score posting ceremony was also rich with heritage. While the score board was modernized, the pomp and circumstance was reminiscent of years past. Team spirit was abundant as your Warren Wranglers showed their team spirit led by our mascot. Many of us returned from the trip hoarse from cheering. The first night of score posting yielded a small but significant win recognizing our electro-mechanical team as the best in the command. The second night during final score posting, yielded Best Operations, Best Maintenance (Blackburn Trophy) and Best ICBM Wing (Blanchard Trophy)! Wow, you can't beat that!

Being part of Global Strike Challenge brought many firsts for me and gave me a glimpse at the rich heritage this great Air Force enjoys. I am very proud to be part of the 90th Missile Wing and very proud of all its members for without their daily excellence, commitment and perseverance, bringing home these trophies would not have been possible.