ILLESHEIM, BW, GERMANY
ILLESHEIM, GERMANY – Soldiers from Charlie Company, 3-159th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, at Storck Kaserne in Illesheim, Germany participated in a physical fitness challenge with the goal of earning the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mark Redman and Chief Warrant Officer 3 James Hilliard, both AH-64D Apache pilots with Charlie Company, came up with the idea to plan an event to earn the badge. Fortunately, Charlie Company has a German Bundeswehr (Federal Defense Force) helicopter pilot, Capt. Marc Gaterslaben, who is attached to 3-159th as the first and only AH-64D Apache pilot in training for the Bundeswehr.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to work with the Germans as well as bring our company together,” Redman said. “It was nice to actually get out of the office and see the guys having fun and actually earning the badge.
The requirements for the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency are an evaluation from the commanding officer, 3,000-meter run, 100-meter sprint, a high jump event, measured shot putt throwing and a 12-kilometer road march with a 15-kilogram (33-pound) rucksack. The badge can be earned in Bronze, Silver and Gold, based on the soldier’s performance in each event.
In comparison with the Army Physical Fitness Test, Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Harlow said, “It’s a little more challenging.”
The soldiers split into three groups and completed most of these events round robin at the gym at Storck Barracks, Illesheim, Germany.
Harlow joked that he did not like the high-jump event because he is short.
After completing the track-and-field events, the soldiers changed into warmer clothes and did the 12-kilometer road march on the snowy streets of Storck Kaserne.
“Everybody was working together and motivating each other,” said Redman. “It was a great sense of accomplishment and everyone had a great attitude even though the weather wasn’t cooperating. It was snowy and windy, but everyone finished as a team.”
On the second day, the soldiers met up at Illesheim and drove to the German military’s Otto-Lilienthal Kaserne in Roth, Germany. Upon arrival the group met Capt. Benedikt Herzner, an Attack Eurocopter Tiger (Unterstützungshubschrauber Tiger) pilot with the 2nd Company, German Army Aviation Corps Attack Helicopter Regiment 26, and the group split into two; the pilots and the crew chiefs.
Herzner took the group of mechanics to the Electronic Skills Trainer (EST), a small-arms weapon simulator. At the EST the group qualified with the P8 9mm Pistol, thus completing the competition for the award.
“It was good to see how everyone tried to do their best to earn the gold badge,” Gaterslaben said.
When the soldiers finished qualifying, Herzner and his staff demonstrated the various weapons that the Germany military uses, and then allowed the American soldiers to shoot each of them. The simulator had a German heavy machine gun, four Walter P8 9mm pistols and three Heckler and Koch G36 assault rifles with single-shot and automatic capabilities.
“I thought they [the weapons] were awesome, my favorite was the machine gun,” said Harlow. “It was a delight”
The simulator presented different scenarios, including a densely wooded forest, a suburban environment and an industrial environment, thus allowing the soldiers to engage vehicles, equipment and enemy targets in a non-hostile environment.
“I have not had an opportunity to do that before,” said Harlow. I thought they [the staff] were squared away. It was a great training opportunity. It was a lot better than sitting out there in the snow doing it in real life.
The pilots got the opportunity to ride in the German BO-105 anti-tank/utility helicopter.
As the day concluded, the soldiers were taken to an instruction and simulator complex for the German Army Helicopter. There, the Soldiers learned how the Tiger is made and about the training requirements for the pilots. They also toured the different areas where the German student-pilots train.
After their tour, the soldiers went to the air traffic control building to enjoy refreshments while waiting for the second group to complete their time at the EST.
To close out the day, the soldiers of Charlie Company were awarded the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency in Gold and a certificate authorizing them for wear in the Army Service Uniform from Maj. Ingo Macher, the company commander of 3rd Company, 261 Aviation Regiment, Otto-Lilienthal Barracks.
“I think if you’re here in Germany it should be an award that everyone should strive to get,” said Redman.
This event also fosters an ongoing working relationship between the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade and the German Army. Lt. Col. Stephen O. Murphy, the 3-159th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion commander is hoping to invite soldiers from the German Army to our American facilities.
“That’s what we always like to do,” said Gaterslaben. “We are kind of neighbors, two aviation units. [Lt.] Col. Murphy wants the Germans to come to [Illesheim] and shoot in the simulator complex to earn the army [marksmanship] badge. We have events at my home unit and we want the battalion and the brigade to take part in them.”
||ILLESHEIM, BW, DE
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