Story and photo by Heather Kline
Soldiers and Marines from across the installation competed for the right to earn and wear the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge, Nov. 14 through 16.
The three-day GAFPB event was overseen by German soldiers stationed on Fort Leonard Wood and hosted by the 3rd Chemical Brigade.
“The German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge provides a rare opportunity for the U.S. Armed Forces, active and Reserve component members, to earn an authorized foreign award,” said German army Sgt. Maj. Mirco Probst, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence liaison. “We are not just learning about each other, we are also building personal relationships and strong friendships.”
The Cold War forged a brotherhood between U.S. troops and the German Armed Forces. This unique partnership was built upon various multinational field-training exercises and activities in preparation for the Cold War. One tool of choice to bond units on a personal level and to strengthen the relationships was utilizing the GAFPB, he explained.
“Through the diverse physical and mental challenges, the events give the next generation of Soldiers firsthand experience with the German Armed Forces physical standards and Soldier skills,” Probst said.
Lt. Col. Sam Kline, 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Chemical Brigade commander, said the event is an excellent challenge for American Soldiers and Marines.
“We are grateful for our German allies and their willingness to partner with our U.S. forces stationed here at Fort Leonard Wood,” Kline said.
The GAFPB competition included events testing skills, such as physical fitness, pistol marksmanship, a 100-meter combat swim and a 35-pound ruck march. Based on performance, Soldiers can qualify for the badge in Gold, Silver or Bronze, depending on how well they test in each event.
Event coordinator Staff Sgt. Brenda Bramel, Co. F, 1st Bn., 48th Inf. Reg. drill sergeant, said “The GAFPB challenges a Soldier’s strength, endurance and marksmanship skills. All participants were evaluated on what the German Armed Forces train for, and the culmination of the events throughout the week foster esprit de corps among participants.”
Participants that met one of the three qualification standards were awarded the related GAFPB badge Nov. 20 at Kelly Hall.
Of the 40 personnel who began, 25 ultimately earned the right to wear the badge.
The GAFPB decoration was established in the 1960s by the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany and can be awarded and worn by army service members of all ranks. The U.S. Army authorizes the wear of this prestigious decoration on the Army Service Uniform as a foreign badge. It is one of many foreign awards approved for wear on the U.S. Army uniform.