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2021 TACP Wraith Challenge

Two U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialists check their compass during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 21, 2021, at Chuck Heinrich Memorial Park, Texas. There were two portions to the land navigation test, a day test and a night test. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

Two U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialists check their compass during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 21, 2021, at Chuck Heinrich Memorial Park, Texas. There were two portions to the land navigation test, a day test and a night test. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

Two U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialists carry a drum over an obstacle during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 20, 2021, on Fort Bliss, Texas. This was one of six obstacles in the leadership course. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

Two U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialists carry a drum over an obstacle during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 20, 2021, on Fort Bliss, Texas. This was one of six obstacles in the leadership course. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

A U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialist shoots an M-4 carbine at a target during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 21, 2021, on Fort Bliss Rod and Gun Club, Texas. The TACP specialists went through the Navy qualification course of fire, giving the competitors the opportunity to qualify for marksmanship on Navy regulations which will earn them Navy ribbons and medals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

A U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialist shoots an M-4 carbine at a target during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 21, 2021, on Fort Bliss Rod and Gun Club, Texas. The TACP specialists went through the Navy qualification course of fire, giving the competitors the opportunity to qualify for marksmanship on Navy regulations which will earn them Navy ribbons and medals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

(Middle left) Airman 1st Class Robert Lowry and (middle right) 1st Lt. Joshua Sams, 9th Air Support Operations Squadron Tactical Air Control Party stand on the winners’ podium with 2nd and 3rd place winners after winning the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 23, 2021, on Fort Bliss, Texas. The Wraith Challenge is an annual 3rd Air Support Operations Group competition which pits two-man teams of the best-of-the-best from Air Force Special Warfare TACP against each other in physical, mental and tactical skills challenges.  (U.S. Air Photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

(Middle left) Airman 1st Class Robert Lowry and (middle right) 1st Lt. Joshua Sams, 9th Air Support Operations Squadron Tactical Air Control Party stand on the winners’ podium with 2nd and 3rd place winners after winning the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 23, 2021, on Fort Bliss, Texas. The Wraith Challenge is an annual 3rd Air Support Operations Group competition which pits two-man teams of the best-of-the-best from Air Force Special Warfare TACP against each other in physical, mental and tactical skills challenges. (U.S. Air Photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

Two U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialists look out at a simulated village during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 22, 2021, on Fort Bliss, Texas. Before communicating with air units, TACP specialists must work with the ground commander to analyze an area and work out a plan of attack. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

Two U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialists look out at a simulated village during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 22, 2021, on Fort Bliss, Texas. Before communicating with air units, TACP specialists must work with the ground commander to analyze an area and work out a plan of attack. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

Two U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialists go through the leadership reaction course during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 20, 2021, on Fort Bliss, Texas. The leadership reaction course challenge tested their problem solving and teamwork ability to maneuver themselves and equipment through different sets of obstacles and scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

Two U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialists go through the leadership reaction course during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 20, 2021, on Fort Bliss, Texas. The leadership reaction course challenge tested their problem solving and teamwork ability to maneuver themselves and equipment through different sets of obstacles and scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

Two U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialists plot a navigation course during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 21, 2021, at Chuck Heinrich Memorial Park, Texas. Participants were given the location of three points and time to plan a route to find them--using nothing but a map and compass. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

Two U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialists plot a navigation course during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 21, 2021, at Chuck Heinrich Memorial Park, Texas. Participants were given the location of three points and time to plan a route to find them--using nothing but a map and compass. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

Two U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialists run a three-mile ruck during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 19, 2021, on Fort Bliss, Texas. The first day of the Wraith Challenge started with a physical test, which includes a three-mile ruck, standing long jumps, an agility test, sprints, farmer carries and a one-and-a-half-mile run. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

Two U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialists run a three-mile ruck during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 19, 2021, on Fort Bliss, Texas. The first day of the Wraith Challenge started with a physical test, which includes a three-mile ruck, standing long jumps, an agility test, sprints, farmer carries and a one-and-a-half-mile run. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

A U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialist tends to a simulated casualty during a combat lifesaver skills scenario at the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 23, 2021, on Fort Bliss, Texas. Participants were tested on their ability to analyze a situation, perform emergency aid, and bring victims to safety until more trained medical units could arrive. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

A U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialist tends to a simulated casualty during a combat lifesaver skills scenario at the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 23, 2021, on Fort Bliss, Texas. Participants were tested on their ability to analyze a situation, perform emergency aid, and bring victims to safety until more trained medical units could arrive. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

A U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialist carries an equipment case over a fence during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 20, 2021, on Fort Bliss, Texas. Participants of the Wraith Challenge completed a leadership course where they solved problems like how to carry equipment and personnel over obstacles.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)
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A U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialist carries an equipment case over a fence during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 20, 2021, on Fort Bliss, Texas. Participants of the Wraith Challenge completed a leadership course where they solved problems like how to carry equipment and personnel over obstacles. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

Two U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialists participate in high frequency radio drills during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 19, 2021, on Fort Bliss, Texas. The Wraith Challenge tests participants’ knowledge and practical application of Joint Terminal Attack Controller skills, field craft, radio use and theory. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)
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Two U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialists participate in high frequency radio drills during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 19, 2021, on Fort Bliss, Texas. The Wraith Challenge tests participants’ knowledge and practical application of Joint Terminal Attack Controller skills, field craft, radio use and theory. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

A U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialist tends to a simulated casualty during a combat lifesaver skills scenario at the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 23, 2021, on Fort Bliss, Texas. Combat lifesaver skills are emergency skills intended to treat casualties and prevent more life-threatening conditions until proper medical units can arrive. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)
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A U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialist tends to a simulated casualty during a combat lifesaver skills scenario at the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 23, 2021, on Fort Bliss, Texas. Combat lifesaver skills are emergency skills intended to treat casualties and prevent more life-threatening conditions until proper medical units can arrive. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

A U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialist does an agility test during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 19, 2021, on Fort Bliss, Texas. The first day of the Wraith Challenge started with a physical test, which includes a three-mile ruck, standing long jumps, an agility test, sprints, farmer carries and a one-and-a-half-mile run. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)
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A U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialist does an agility test during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 19, 2021, on Fort Bliss, Texas. The first day of the Wraith Challenge started with a physical test, which includes a three-mile ruck, standing long jumps, an agility test, sprints, farmer carries and a one-and-a-half-mile run. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialists shoot a Beretta M-9 during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 21, 2021, on Fort Bliss Rod and Gun Club, Texas. The TACP specialists went through the Navy qualification course of fire to test their firing ability in nonstandard positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)
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U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialists shoot a Beretta M-9 during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 21, 2021, on Fort Bliss Rod and Gun Club, Texas. The TACP specialists went through the Navy qualification course of fire to test their firing ability in nonstandard positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

Two U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialists communicate with a U.S. Army UH-64 Apache Helicopter during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 22, 2021, on Fort Bliss, Texas. TACP must be able to effectively communicate and command aircraft to defend friendly forces or attach enemy positions.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)
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Two U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party specialists communicate with a U.S. Army UH-64 Apache Helicopter during the 2021 Wraith Challenge, April 22, 2021, on Fort Bliss, Texas. TACP must be able to effectively communicate and command aircraft to defend friendly forces or attach enemy positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

FORT BLISS, Texas --

The 7th Air Support Operations Squadron hosted the 3rd Annual Wraith Challenge at Ft. Bliss, Texas, from April 19-23.

The Wraith Challenge, previously known as the Phantom Challenge, is an annual 3rd Air Support Operations Group competition which pits the best-of-the-best from Air Force Special Warfare Tactical Air Control Party against each other in physical and mental challenges. The 9th ASOS, 10th ASOS and the 13th ASOS also participated in the competition.

“This week-long exercise tests all facets of TACP capabilities, knowledge and physical fitness,” said 1st Lt. Ben Anderson, 7th ASOS flight commander and Wraith Challenge planning officer-in-charge. “So, the Wraith Challenge can really be viewed as a test of who is the most competent team in the 3rd ASOG.”

Each squadron can send up to two teams of two individuals for this year’s challenge. The 7th, 10th and 13th ASOS entered one team each, while the 9th ASOS entered two teams.

The winners of this year’s Wraith Challenge are 1st Lt. Joshua Sams and Airman 1st Class Robert Lowry, 9th ASOS TACP contestants.

“We’ve been training hard for the past two or three months for this competition,” said Sams. “We came here to compete, and we came here to get better.”

“It’s fun to come out and see all the other units putting up guys that want to compete,” said Lowry. “Taking away from this competition, you just got to keep progressing, it doesn’t stop after this challenge; it’s what’s next.”

The winners of the 3rd Wraith Challenge will go on to represent the 3rd ASOG at the Lighting Challenge, which is the TACP worldwide challenge. They will compete against top TACP from the 4th ASOG, Wiesbaden, Germany and the 18th ASOG, Pope Field, North Carolina.

The events and challenges were designed to test the participants as much as possible.

“All the events are designed to really test their overall skill sets as Joint Terminal Attack Controllers, and as part of their overall readiness to deploy and support combat operations,” said Anderson. “We really tried to take the broad aspects and cram them into a single challenge.”

Some of the challenges that the contestants faced were a Special Warfare tier two physical training test, high frequency radio drills, a call-for-fire and close air support simulator mission, Navy qualification course of fire, day and night navigation, close combat aviation, a monster mash, and a combat lifesaver refresher course.

“I think the monster mash is my favorite event because that’s when you really see which team wants this,” said Capt. Ryan Neith, 7th ASOS liaison to first armored division. “The folks that come to this event are all highly trained and skilled, so this event isn’t so much, whether they’re highly skilled, it’s about the drive of who wants it the most.”

The monster mash is a 12-mile ruck carrying 60 pounds of dry weight, in addition to their water sources and snacks. During this ruck, at every mile the contestants either complete an academic test or receive a piece of equipment they must carry as a team to the next mile marker.

“Overall, the Wraith Challenge ended up for us bringing an opportunity to test readiness…to encourage those skills necessary for the TACP to be effective on assignments,”  said Neith. “We did a great job encouraging ourselves and driving our standards even higher, and for those that are looking to join the Air Force team as well, when we say excellence, we mean, exceeding excellence.”