News: Fort Carson to host German armed forces badge qualification in April
Story by Spc. Andrew Ingram
FORT CARSON, Colo. – Few soldiers find the chance to earn foreign awards; fewer still take advantage of that opportunity.
Next month, as many as 40 Fort Carson soldiers will have the opportunity to earn the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency.
To earn the badge, soldiers must test their strength, endurance, military prowess and mental toughness in a series of events, ranging from a 200-meter swim to weapons qualification with the M9 service pistol and a 12-mile foot march.
German air force Lt. Col. Andreas Kaukel, an exchange officer at the U.S. Air Force Academy, brought the competition to Fort Carson, opening the qualification to service members post-wide.
“This is a very prestigious award, and it is not an easy award to earn,” Kaukel said. “I think it is a very good way soldiers can show respect to another military, (and) through this program, we are fostering a lot of good relationships.”
During the three-day, four-phase event that includes trials in running and jumping, the competition tests every aspect of a service member’s basic warrior skills, and the badge is awarded in gold, silver or bronze based on the results of the weapons qualification and foot march, said Kaukel.
The GAFBMP’s genesis dates back to November 10, 1912, when the German Olympic committee created the German Athletic Badge to encourage fitness among the German people. The German army soon integrated the test into its training cycle and added a few more military-centric events, such as a weapons qualification and foot march.
On July 4, 1958, the German government authorized allied militaries to earn and wear the badge.
“This is not an easy event by any means,” said Sgt. Michael Phillips, an infantryman assigned to the Fort Carson Replacement Center. “You definitely need to be in top physical condition to be able to accomplish it.”
The first U.S. soldiers to earn the badge took part in the event to challenge themselves and build esprit de corps with their German counterparts while stationed in Germany.
“Competing in the event together helped bring American and German soldiers together, and doing it now helps us maintain and strengthen those bonds between us,” said Phillips.
While only the first 40 applicants will be able to take part in the April qualification, Phillips said there will be more opportunities for Fort Carson soldiers to earn the GAFBMP.
“If we generate enough interest, we may be able to qualify more soldiers every two months,” he said. “That way, more soldiers will have the opportunity to compete, and those that didn’t make it through the first time will have plenty of time to train before their second attempt.”
Phillips said in addition to organizing this year’s competition, he is currently training to take part in the GAFBMP qualification himself.
“I haven’t had a lot of notice to start training but neither has anyone else,” he said. “It is going to be extremely challenging because the German test is so different from our own physical fitness test.”
The GAFBMP testing will be held on Fort Carson April 6, 20 and 28.
For more information, or to request an application, contact Sgt. Michael Philips at 526-5282, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.