News: Das Abzeichen für Leistungen im Truppendienst (German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency)
Story by Spc. Lalita Hazelett
CAMP BULLIS, Texas – With a fluctuating and fast-paced schedule, U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers pushed through unfamiliar training procedures while participating in three unique foreign events held by the 17th Psychological Operations Battalion here March 19-22, 2014.
These events not only tested Soldiers’ physical skills and marksmanship, but also allowed them the opportunity to earn foreign jump wings.
The first event was the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency that tested Soldiers on physical fitness, swimming, road march, CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear) test, combat lifesaver skills, and an M9 pistol qualification.
“The events are a little different compared to the U.S. Army standards for physical fitness, and physically it is very challenging,” said Spc. Steve Gomez, a psyop specialist with the 349th Psychological Operations Company out of Aurora, Co. “It’s nice to experience something different.”
Gomez, who trained for two months for the event, was the first competitor to complete the 12-kilometer road march with a time of 1 hour and 16 minutes, placing him as a “gold” finalist for that event.
“The ruck was probably the hardest, because I didn’t actually get out and prepare for it,” added Gomez. “I’m definitely ready for it [the swim event]. I’m a little sore right now but I’ll get a good stretch, eat a couple of bananas and pray for the best.”
The second event was the German Armed Forces Badge for Marksmanship, also known as the Schutzenschnur, which is a badge specifically awarded for German weapons proficiency. To earn this badge, Soldiers must successfully qualify firing a German table of standard with the M9 pistol and an M4 Carbine.
The determining factor for placement in the Schutzenschnur and the GAFB is based on the lowest placement medal, so failing in one exercise meant you failed the entire event. Some were discouraged. Others were motivated by it.
“Even though I missed my swim time by four seconds, I’m going to go try for the Schutzenschnur,” said Sgt. James Black, a psyop specialist with the 301st POC out of San Diego, as he competed for the GAFB for Military Proficiency.
“Once you fail one thing you’re disqualified from receiving any badge,” said Spc. Andrew Russell, a psyop specialist with the 315th POC out of Upland, Calif., “but for me I just continued to march forward getting Gold on the ruck and silver on all other events.”
Along with the two German proficiency events, airborne qualified Soldiers had the opportunity to earn foreign jump wings, as both German and Italian jumpmasters were present to aide with an airborne operation.
Despite scheduling conflicts due to weather, which caused troops to make a choice between participating in either the GAFB and Schuzenschnur events or the jumps, some paratroopers still found it rewarding to participate in the foreign airborne operations.
“I’m a paratrooper too, so at the end of the day I’m still going to get a combat equipment exit with the Germans and be able to jump with the Italians. I’m not going home empty-handed,” remarked Black.
All of the foreign exposure has proven to be a good experience for the Soldiers not just physically but as a cultural exchange, allowing all Soldiers to interact and learn from our German and Italian allies and vice versa.
“Overall, it builds rapport as far as working with the Germans,” said Gomez. “It’s really nice to work with them and gain knowledge you can take with you the rest of your military career.”
This work, Das Abzeichen für Leistungen im Truppendienst (German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency), by SPC Lalita Hazelett, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.