News

Space and missile competition celebrates 30 years of excellence

Released: Apr 28, 1997


VANDENBERG AFB, Calif. (AFNS) -- When the Guardian
Challenge events kick off April 29 at Vandenberg Air Force
Base, it will mark the 30th anniversary of the space and missile
competition. 

The Guardian Challenge tradition began in 1967 when Strategic
Air Command held the first missile combat competition, known
as "Curtain Raiser." Each intercontinental ballistic missile wing
sent two combat crews and one targeting and alignment team.
Competition was canceled in 1968 because of SAC's
commitments in Vietnam but resumed the following year, when
it was renamed "Olympic Arena." 

The next major changes came in 1975, when teams included
female combat-crew members and security police. The
following year, in 1976, it again expanded to include
communications, civil engineering and vehicle support teams. In
1978, however, the competition was downsized, and the
vehicle support teams were excluded from Olympic Arena. 

The eighties brought more changes to the missile competition.
In 1982, it was again renamed and became the SAC Missile
Combat Competition. Peacekeeper missiles became part of the
event in 1988. 

To celebrate the merger of space and missile career fields and
the transfer of 20th Air Force to Air Force Space Command in
1993, the competition was renamed "Guardian Challenge,"
reflecting space command's motto, "Guardians of the High
Frontier." The May 1994 Guardian Challenge debut included
space operations for the first time. In 1995, helicopters were
added to the competition. 

Guardian Challenge '97 will include a "first" as well: satellite
operations teams from the 50th Space Wing will participate in
the event. 

While the competition itself has changed over the years, the
spirit of the "High Plains Warrior" has not. 

"The historic competitor spirit, which has evolved over 30
years, continues to demonstrate to our friends and foes that Air
Force Space Command produces the finest warfighters," said
Brig. Gen. Robert C. Hinson, Air Force Space Command's
director of operations. 

Many traditions have remained a part of the annual space and
missile competition over the years. "Guardian Challenge spans
the Command's mission areas while preserving some of the fine
traditions," said Gen. Howell M. Estes III, commander of Air
Force Space Command. These events, including the score
postings and Competitor's Parade, have been preserved from
the original competitions and will highlight the week's events.