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Readiness Challenge returns to reinvigorate mindsets

A team of civil engineers tackle a mobile aircraft arresting system, or MAAS, during day four of the Readiness Challenge beta test Oct. 17, 2019, at the Silver Flag exercise site, Tyndall AFB, Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo by David Ford)

A team of civil engineers tackle a mobile aircraft arresting system, or MAAS, during day four of the Readiness Challenge beta test Oct. 17, 2019, at the Silver Flag exercise site, Tyndall AFB, Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo by David Ford)

Brig. Gen. John Allen, Air Force Director of civil engineers, talks to a crowd of RED HORSE members during day four of the Readiness Challenge beta test Oct. 17, 2019, at the Silver Flag exercise site, Tyndall AFB, Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo by David Ford)

Brig. Gen. John Allen, Air Force Director of civil engineers, talks to a crowd of RED HORSE members during day four of the Readiness Challenge beta test Oct. 17, 2019, at the Silver Flag exercise site, Tyndall AFB, Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo by David Ford)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- After almost two decades, the civil engineering-focused Readiness Challenge returned Oct. 14-17 in the form of a beta test.

The test, held at Silver Flag Exercise Site, Tyndall AFB, Florida, was designed “to reinvigorate the Readiness Challenge piece, instill competition and that warrior ethos in our Air Force Civil Engineering units, and get back to the readiness mindset,” said Maj. Jimmy Oxendine, Air Force Civil Engineer Center expeditionary engineering chief and lead organizer of the event.

Three units -- the 7th Civil Engineer Squadron from Dyess AFB, Texas; 628th CES from Charleston, South Carolina; 1st Special Operations CES, Hurlburt Field, Florida -- took part in 28 events over four days.

For Senior Airman Colin Murphy from Dyess AFB, competing with his peers is something he said is important and effective in building bonds in the workplace.

“I think competition is a great aspect when it comes to work,” said Murphy. “It pushes everyone to do better, work harder and go faster. It also helps us to focus on safety, and keeping eveyone safe while we do it.”

While Oxendine said it was healthy for participants to have a competitive spirit, the goal of the event was to find out how the Air Force can improve when it comes to readiness.

“For the competition, we want to empower units to come with that positive attitude,” he said. “Yes, it’s about competition but it’s also about honing and exercising those wartime skills and capabilities that can help us identify if there are any training gaps.”

None of the events during the beta test were new to competitors.

“We’re evaluating the teams on objectives, requirements or events that are currently being taught in the Silver Flag curriculum and the wartime task standards,” Oxendine said.

Murphy, who primarily competed inside an excavator during the Rapid Damage Repair event, said he’s hoping that his participation not only lends to a readiness-focused Air Force in the present, but the future as well.

“I’m just glad to be here and be a part of this,” he said. “Hopefully the feedback we get out here can affect the future of the Air Force -- that we’re a more ready Air Force and we can handle any business that we need to take care of.”

Timing can be everything, and Oxendine said the return of the Readiness Challenge this year is a positive first step at just the right time in preparation for next year’s event. 

“We’re going to take the lessons learned and observations from this beta test, and apply those for the IOC event in Oct. 2020. I think this event is perfect timing with the direction from our leadership at Air Staff, trying to reinvigorate that readiness mindset,” he said. “This is just the first step in the right direction. This gives us an opportunity to engage directly with units and give them the opportunity to showcase their abilities and what they bring to the fight.”

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