• Vying for German proficiency badge

  • Four days of strenuous physical tests culminated in 71 Fort Leavenworth service members and one Fort Stewart, Ga., soldier being presented the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency in a ceremony May 13 at the Post Theater.

    • email print
  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    Four days of strenuous physical tests culminated in 71 Fort Leavenworth service members and one Fort Stewart, Ga., soldier being presented the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency in a ceremony May 13 at the Post Theater.
    “In the United States military, the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge is one of the few approved foreign awards, and it is one of the most sought-after awards to achieve,” said German Sgt. Maj. Markus Hausleitner, Combined Arms Center. “It is a complex competition to validate comprehensively the physical fitness, basic military skills, proficiency and moral standards (of the service member). It requires individual preparation, discipline and training.”
    The German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency — Leistungsabzeichen in German — is worn by soldiers of all ranks. The seven disciplines that soldiers had to demonstrate are the same qualifications for German soldiers who must requalify for the badge each year. If a soldier fails an event, he or she has one year to successfully complete it.
    “It is worth it to go out for it. While it does not give you a boost in your career per say, it is an accomplishment you can be proud of,” said Col. Carsten Döding, German Army liaison officer to CAC. “To me, you should never pass down a chance to improve yourselves and experience something new.”
    Initially, 110 soldiers started the test; and of the 72 who completed it, eight earned the bronze badge, 42 earned the silver badge and 22 earned the gold badge.
    Service members had different reasons why they decided to go for the badge.
    “It is a unique competition that’s not readily available,” said Air Force Maj. Juan Fiol, Command and General Staff Officer Course student, who earned a silver badge. “I’m also moving to Germany, so it is also a nice thing to do beforehand.”
    Sgt. Maria Flores Garcia, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 15th Military Police Brigade, who earned the gold badge, said she wanted to be an example to her soldiers.
    “I wanted to show my soldiers that we have to be capable, to be ready and to exceed, and in another military, be to their standards,” she said. “When we have to join with them or do missions with them, we’ve got to know what they’re doing and be capable of doing it as well.”
    The week began with the 100-meter swim where service members had four minutes to swim 100 meters in full uniform, then undress without touching the sides or the bottoms of the pool. About 11 percent of participants failed the swim, Döding said.
    The second day, competitors had to complete an 11-by-10-meter sprint in 60 seconds, a flexed arm hang and a 1,000-meter run. While the swim was a “pass, no pass” event, the participants’ times on the basic fitness test were converted into points putting them on track for gold, silver or bronze badges.
    Page 2 of 2 - On day three, participants had to shoot a 9mm pistol, switching back and forth between two target silhouettes.
    For the final event, participants had to complete either a six-, nine- or 12-kilometer road march within various time limits in full uniform while carrying a 35-pound rucksack.
    Following the completion of the final event, participants were able to reflect on the week, and many said they learned something about themselves.
    “If you push yourself, you can go farther,” said Spc. Ambrosia Sanders, animal care specialist with the Fort Leavenworth Veterinary Treatment Facility, who earned the gold badge. “You’re striving to do better instead of just being the average soldier, a 60 percent soldier.”
    The challenge showed some soldiers how they might do better.
    “I learned I’m a little bit out of shape, so I need to do more (physical training). I need to ruck more on my own,” said Pfc. Issac Walters, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 40th MP Battalion (Detention), who earned the bronze badge. “It is definitely fun and definitely allows you to meet new soldiers and challenge yourself to do something we don’t often get to do as correctional officers.”
    Some competitors powered through the events.
    “If I just keep going and don’t really think about what I’m doing then I don’t stop,” said Spc. Joshua Buchholz, 291st MP Company, 40th. “It was challenging and I’m happy to be able to have passed.”
    Buchholz earned the bronze badge.
    After presenting the service members with their badges, Döding said he wanted them to remember that earning the badge is a distinct honor and accomplishment.
    “Do not look at it as something else you put on your uniform. Rather, look at it as an opportunity to have earned something that can set you apart from your peers,” Döding said. “Nevertheless, the proficiency badge qualification is not only another challenging experience, but definitely a fun one and finally, you will have some extra shine on your service dress.
    “It looks cool and it is nice to have a foreign award,” he said. “Wear it with pride and wear it as a symbol of the American and German friendship.”
  • Comment or view comments