ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. (KOTA TV) - Every other year, airmen show off their skills in the Global Strike Challenge competition. It started last week in Minot, North Dakota but Tuesday is the Ellsworth's team's time to shine.
An Ellsworth airmen transports a bomb to a B-1 aircraft during the Global Strike Challenge. (KOTA TV)
Part written exam and part performance, the Global Strike Challenge is underway.
Global Strike Challenge is a competition between Air Force Global Strike Command, Air Combat Command, Air Force Reserve Command and the Air National Guard. There are bomber operations, maintenance competitions, helicopter training, security forces challenges and Intercontinental ballistic missile maintenance competitions.
Senior Master Sgt. Robbie Smith helped set up for Tuesday's competition by getting the aircraft ready and tools set out. He says since the B-1, B-2 and B-52 members are competing together, the key for the Ellsworth team to win is:
"It's just the basic fundamentals of aircraft maintenance. The simple stuff. The toolbox is all configured correctly with all the right numbers. Just the attention to detail that's what's going to set us apart from everyone else," QA Superintendent in 28th Maintenance Group Senior Master Sgt. Smith said.
Four airmen were tested on proficiency as they loaded eight 2,000-pound bombs onto a B-1 aircraft.
Smith said communication and teamwork are vital in every mission.
"As we are leading up to this event, they are basically tied to each other's hips," Smith said. "Working together, reading the instructions, understanding everything, building the toolbox, looking over the airplanes. Making sure they are a hundred percent efficient and they cross-check each other. In a good close the loop feedback kind of session. That 'hey you didn't do this right, you didn't do this well' and they refine each other. It's kind of a refiners fire as far as teamwork is concerned."
It's Staff Sgt.Toby Taylor's first time competing. He said this competition is just putting his daily duties to the test and showing it to the world.
"So when we deploy we will have to work together as 34th and 37th. It helps us come together as a team because each side does things just a little different," Taylor said.
Smith said he competed back in 2011 at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri and says it was one of the best moments in his career.
"There's nothing better when you get the chance to showcase your skills. It's nerve-racking. But it's also really awarding because it's a culmination of all of your effort. The things that I've learned during that competition have paid dividends eight years later. I still remember some things I learned that day," Smith said.
Global Strike Challenge continues throughout the summer.
On November 20th, the winning team will be honored at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.