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103rd Security Forces Squadron SWATS the competition

Senior Airman Francis Gelada, 103rd Security Forces Squadron, grimaces during a pull-up as his teammates hold the bar in place as part of the Connecticut SWAT Challenge on Aug. 22, 2013, at the West Hartford Reservoir, West Hartford, Conn. The Connecticut Air National Guard team grabbed eighth place overall, besting 20 other regional teams. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Maj. Jefferson S. Heiland)

Senior Airman Francis Gelada, 103rd Security Forces Squadron, grimaces during a pull-up as his teammates hold the bar in place as part of the Connecticut SWAT Challenge on Aug. 22, 2013, at the West Hartford Reservoir, West Hartford, Conn. The Connecticut Air National Guard team grabbed eighth place overall, besting 20 other regional teams. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Maj. Jefferson S. Heiland)

Senior Airman Jason Dufour carries Senior Airman Francis Gelada as part of just one of a myriad of physical challenges at the West Hartford Reservoir in West Hartford, Conn. during the ninth annual Connecticut SWAT Challenge Aug. 22, 2013. The team from the 103rd Security Forces Squadron came in eighth place overall, besting 20 other regional teams from across New England. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Maj. Jefferson S. Heiland)

Senior Airman Jason Dufour carries Senior Airman Francis Gelada as part of just one of a myriad of physical challenges at the West Hartford Reservoir in West Hartford, Conn. during the ninth annual Connecticut SWAT Challenge Aug. 22, 2013. The team from the 103rd Security Forces Squadron came in eighth place overall, besting 20 other regional teams from across New England. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Maj. Jefferson S. Heiland)

The 103rd Airlift Wing's security forces emergency services team runs in formation at the West Hartford Reservoir during the ninth annual Connecticut SWAT Challenge Aug. 22, 2013. The event pits law enforcement and military special weapons and tactics teams from across New England in a competition that fosters teamwork and enhances skills. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Maj. Jefferson S. Heiland)

The 103rd Airlift Wing's security forces emergency services team runs in formation at the West Hartford Reservoir during the ninth annual Connecticut SWAT Challenge Aug. 22, 2013. The event pits law enforcement and military special weapons and tactics teams from across New England in a competition that fosters teamwork and enhances skills. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Maj. Jefferson S. Heiland)

Members of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron emergency services team tug together as part of the Connecticut SWAT Challenge on Aug. 22, 2013, at the West Hartford Reservoir, West Hartford, Conn. The Connecticut Air National Guard team grabbed eighth place overall, besting 20 other regional teams. This was just one of many physically grueling obstacles competitors faced.  (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Maj. Bryon Turner)

Members of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron emergency services team tug together as part of the Connecticut SWAT Challenge on Aug. 22, 2013, at the West Hartford Reservoir, West Hartford, Conn. The Connecticut Air National Guard team grabbed eighth place overall, besting 20 other regional teams. This was just one of many physically grueling obstacles competitors faced. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Maj. Bryon Turner)

Members of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron emergency services team work together to move a heavy stone as part of the Connecticut SWAT Challenge on Aug. 22, 2013, at the West Hartford Reservoir, West Hartford, Conn. The Connecticut Air National Guard team grabbed eighth place overall, besting 20 other regional teams. This was just one of many physically grueling obstacles competitors faced.  (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Maj. Bryon Turner)

Members of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron emergency services team work together to move a heavy stone as part of the Connecticut SWAT Challenge on Aug. 22, 2013, at the West Hartford Reservoir, West Hartford, Conn. The Connecticut Air National Guard team grabbed eighth place overall, besting 20 other regional teams. This was just one of many physically grueling obstacles competitors faced. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Maj. Bryon Turner)

Members of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron emergency services team work together to move a heavy stone as part of the Connecticut SWAT Challenge on Aug. 22, 2013, at the West Hartford Reservoir, West Hartford, Conn. The Connecticut Air National Guard team grabbed eighth place overall, besting 20 other regional teams. This was just one of many physically grueling obstacles competitors faced.  (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Maj. Bryon Turner)

Members of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron emergency services team work together to move a heavy stone as part of the Connecticut SWAT Challenge on Aug. 22, 2013, at the West Hartford Reservoir, West Hartford, Conn. The Connecticut Air National Guard team grabbed eighth place overall, besting 20 other regional teams. This was just one of many physically grueling obstacles competitors faced. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Maj. Bryon Turner)

Members of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron emergency services team pose for a group shot at the Connecticut SWAT Challenge Aug. 22, 2013, West Hartford Reservoir, West Hartford, Conn. The Connecticut Air National Guard team grabbed eighth place overall, besting 20 other regional teams. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. Erin McNamara)

Members of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron emergency services team pose for a group shot at the Connecticut SWAT Challenge Aug. 22, 2013, West Hartford Reservoir, West Hartford, Conn. The Connecticut Air National Guard team grabbed eighth place overall, besting 20 other regional teams. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. Erin McNamara)

Senior Airman Francis Gelada negotiates an obstacle at the West Hartford Reservoir during the ninth annual Connecticut SWAT Challenge Aug. 22, 2013. The event pits law enforcement and military special weapons and tactics teams from across New England in a competition that fosters teamwork and enhances skills. (U.S. Air Nation-al Guard Photo by Maj. Jefferson S. Heiland)

Senior Airman Francis Gelada negotiates an obstacle at the West Hartford Reservoir during the ninth annual Connecticut SWAT Challenge Aug. 22, 2013. The event pits law enforcement and military special weapons and tactics teams from across New England in a competition that fosters teamwork and enhances skills. (U.S. Air Nation-al Guard Photo by Maj. Jefferson S. Heiland)

Members of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron emergency services team endure an ice-water plunge at the West Hartford Reservoir as part of the Connecticut SWAT Challenge Aug. 22, 2013. The ice bath was just one of many physically grueling obstacles competitors faced. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Maj. Bryon Turner)

Members of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron emergency services team endure an ice-water plunge at the West Hartford Reservoir as part of the Connecticut SWAT Challenge Aug. 22, 2013. The ice bath was just one of many physically grueling obstacles competitors faced. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Maj. Bryon Turner)

West Hartford, Conn. -- Special weapons and tactics, quick response force or emergency services team, no matter how you choose to name these special units, the truth remains the same. These units are the last resort, the most highly-specialized and lethal force that we call upon to return an intense and deadly situation back to a state of calm. The training to maintain this level of excellence, however, is daunting and the ability to self-assess is crucial. What better way to gauge how well a SWAT team can perform than to compete against others of like quality?

That is exactly what the Connecticut SWAT Challenge is all about. The ninth annual iteration of this event took place from August 20 through the 22. Participating in the event were 28 quick-response teams from around New England vying to see who was best. Included in that number was the 103rd Security Forces Squadron's emergency services team who took 8th place overall.

The event consisted of many different challenges covering a wide geographic path. At the Metacon Gun Club in Simsbury, the SWAT Challenge hosted the live-fire weapon events where teams had to maneuver through obstacles, bust down doors and shoot at static targets under the pressure of time.

"A lot of this is all stress fire and you're running around--shooting under something, shooting over something and you just got to take your time, take a breather and just find your happy place," said Senior Airman Andrew Faust, a member of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron.

Down the road at the Metropolitan District Company's reservoir and park in West Hartford, the SWAT Challenge pitted team against team in a 5-plus-mile obstacle course that pushed the limits of physical conditioning and teamwork.

"Today on the course, we are going to see a lot of CrossFit® stuff, sleds, bungees, tire-flips, log presses with telephone poles--we're running an eight-man team this year and it's always challenging," said Master Sgt. Aaron Bowman of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron. "It's brutal, it's definitely challenging."

This is the EST's eighth year competing, and the team boasted having the one and only female competitor this year, Senior Airman Alecia Aldrich. Unfortunately, she suffered a knee injury during one of the obstacles but, in true SWAT fashion, the EST would not leave her behind. After subbing in a replacement, Staff Sgt. Ryan Davies carried Aldrich the remainder of the way to finish the course with the team.

This dedication to teamwork and excellence has truly proven the 103rd Security Forces Squadron's emergency services team has what it takes to get the job done. Taking eighth place in a challenge where the other competitors get to train as part of their nine to five job is no small task. On top of that, the 103rd Security Forces Squadron was honored as the top military team during the competition, further showing that the unit is making a habit of excellence.