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Dragon Challenge pushes 18th ASOG Airmen to the limit

Senior Airman Aaron Conway from the 14th Air Support Operations Squadron sips water during the ruck march in the Dragon Challenge 2018 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Nov. 1, 2018. Dragon Challenge competitors had four hours to complete the 12-mile ruck march. The ruck march was one of the 11 events during the challenge. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Faith Brodkorb)

Senior Airman Aaron Conway from the 14th Air Support Operations Squadron sips water during the ruck march in the Dragon Challenge 2018 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Nov. 1, 2018. Dragon Challenge competitors had four hours to complete the 12-mile ruck march. The ruck march was one of the 11 events during the challenge. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Faith Brodkorb)

Dragon Challenge 2018 competitors leave their clothes out to dry in the sun after a 12-mile ruck march at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Nov. 1, 2018. The competitors were so sweaty after the ruck march that they needed to let their clothes dry before the next event later that day. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Faith Brodkorb)

Dragon Challenge 2018 competitors leave their clothes out to dry in the sun after a 12-mile ruck march at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Nov. 1, 2018. The competitors were so sweaty after the ruck march that they needed to let their clothes dry before the next event later that day. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Faith Brodkorb)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Benjamin Blake, a competitor from the 20th Air Support Operations Squadron, jumps over an obstacle during the Dragon Challenge 2018 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina Oct. 31, 2018. After the obstacle course, Dragon Challenge competitors took an Army knowledge test to see how well they understand the sister service they support. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Faith Brodkorb)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Benjamin Blake, a competitor from the 20th Air Support Operations Squadron, jumps over an obstacle during the Dragon Challenge 2018 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina Oct. 31, 2018. After the obstacle course, Dragon Challenge competitors took an Army knowledge test to see how well they understand the sister service they support. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Faith Brodkorb)

Two pairs of competitors fight simultaneously during the combatives tournament at the Dragon Challenge 2018 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Nov. 1, 2018. The combatives tournament was the final event in the three-day competition. Airmen attempted to submit their opponents within six minutes to win the fight. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Faith Brodkorb)

Two pairs of competitors fight simultaneously during the combatives tournament at the Dragon Challenge 2018 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Nov. 1, 2018. The combatives tournament was the final event in the three-day competition. Airmen attempted to submit their opponents within six minutes to win the fight. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Faith Brodkorb)

Competitors from the 20th Air Support Operations Squadron plan their route during the night land navigation event of Dragon Challenge 2018 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina Oct. 31, 2018. The event required competitors to navigate through the woods in the dark to as many points as possible within the allotted time. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Faith Brodkorb)

Competitors from the 20th Air Support Operations Squadron plan their route during the night land navigation event of Dragon Challenge 2018 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina Oct. 31, 2018. The event required competitors to navigate through the woods in the dark to as many points as possible within the allotted time. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Faith Brodkorb)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Eight teams made up of tactical air control party Airmen, staff weather officers and support personnel from the 18th Air Support Operations Group competed in the 2018 Dragon Challenge, Oct. 30 through Nov. 1., at Fort Bragg, N.C. 

The competition began in 1999 and was recently reignited after an 11-year hiatus, as a means to push the best Airmen from each squadron to compete, improve and bring new skills back to their units. 

“All of these are events that can easily translate into combat,” said Capt. Michael Lambert, the chief of training for the 818th Operations Support Squadron and Dragon Challenge 2018 planner. “It simulates, as much as we can, the stressors and the physical activities they would perform outside the wire on a mission.” 

The three-day battle kicked off with the battlefield Airmen fitness test then a stress shoot, casualty care, land navigation, an obstacle course and an Army knowledge test intended to stress the competitors, so they can be more prepared for the stress of combat later. The final event was a combative tournament between the final 16 competitors.

“I hope, as you guys pushed yourselves, you realized how important it is to take training in garrison seriously,” said Col. Dane Crawford, 18th ASOG commander, during the closing ceremony. “Take that back to your unit; apply that. Make yourself a disciplined and ready warrior because you do not want to be down range wishing you had trained harder in garrison.”

Not only were the Airmen able to train for potential real-world scenarios but they were also able to build camaraderie. Throughout the three-day event, the competitors stayed together in a tent near the 18th ASOG building. This allowed them to catch up with old friends, build new relationships and understand the missions of the other squadrons.

“It’s been nice to work with other (wingmen) in the career field and other combat mission support jobs as well,” said Staff Sgt. Benjamin Blake, a competitor from the 20th Air Operations Support Squadron and overall third place individual winner. “I’ve learned that there are some things that I could work on. I’m definitely learning when you’re tired, some of your weak points start to show more.”

The overall winners of the Dragon Challenge 2018 were Senior Airman Aaron Conway and Team One from the 14th Air Support Operations Squadron out of Fort Bragg. Each squadron will improve its skills and prepare to compete again next year.