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Representing Security Forces: Fighting to be the "best"

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Tech. Sgt. Timothy Rooney, 136th Security Forces Squadron member, listens to additional instruction prior to starting the land navigation portion of the 2018 Best Warrior Competition March 1, 2018 at Camp Swift near Bastrop, Texas. The Best Warrior Competition is a three-day event testing the tactical and technical expertise of Airmen and Soldiers from the state of Texas. (Texas Air National Guard photo/Staff Sgt. Kristina Overton)

Bastrop, TX -- The morning started early on March 2, 2018 for Texas Guardsmen and their state partners taking part in the 2018 Texas Military Department Best Warrior Competition. By 4 a.m., competitors were already charging uneven terrain on a 12-mile march, lugging 35-pound rucksacks over their shoulders. With only three hours to complete the task, the 28 participants forged their way to the finish-line only to be immediately shuttled to M-4 rifle and .50-caliber machine gun qualification ranges followed by a warrior task simulation field.

Every day is rigorous, challenging and specifically designed to test competitors endurance through real-life combat situations. While being able to assess tactical and technical skills may be a highlight for most of the participants, for Texas Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Timothy Rooney, 136th Security Force Squadron member, being in the fast-paced environment is also an opportunity to learn and grow as an Airman.

“I’ve known about this competition for a couple of years now,” said Rooney. “Two years ago, I volunteered as a sponsor for another competitor from our unit named Steven Hein, who ended up winning the whole thing. I knew then I would come back and compete. I saw where he excelled and areas that I needed to work on if I was planning to come back. ”

Deferred by a deployment tasking to the area of responsibility last year, Rooney continued to maintain his proficiency. Upon returning to his unit, it wasn't long before news of the event spread. When the notification for individuals interested in competing in the event resurfaced, he made plans to try out.

“For the last two and a half months I worked out three times a day,” Rooney said. “I did a lot of cardiovascular - running, rowing, weight training in the afternoons. Whenever I was moving, I was on my feet as opposed to riding around.”

During the event, the competitors are challenged with a series of warfare simulations, written and physical exams, drills and interviews. Over the course of four-days, junior enlisted and noncommissioned officers from Texas Air and Army National Guards as well as Czech Republic and Chilean forces compete.

Service members from the Texas Air National Guard began participating in the Best Warrior Competition in 2013, alongside the soldiers from the Texas Army National Guard, to improve camaraderie within a joint environment. Now on the third day of the competition, Rooney has benefited from the joint operations, and gained valuable insight.

“It’s a great experience,” Rooney said, “but it’s also a learning opportunity. You prepare to come here, you do your best, but you learn more than anything. Competing allows you to sharpen your skills and also learn from the other services. There are different standards when it comes to physical fitness.”

The entire competition is physically and mentally demanding, he said, but it’s worth it to be able to represent the unit.

“I know I have some big shoes to fill,” Rooney said. “Overall, I plan to just do my best and put 100 percent effort into making us look good. I’m not just representing the wing, I’m representing Security Forces."

The Best Warrior Competition began on February 28, and will end on March 4.

For more information on the 136th Airlift Wing, visit www.136ang.aw.af.mil.