FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Although physical training is a part of every Soldier's life, some Soldiers continue to search for physical challenges.

Members of the Army Ground Forces Band qualified for the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge at Fort Bragg, N.C., May 13-17. In lieu of just doing pushups and sit-ups, they performed events such as the long jump, shot put and swimming. These exercises presented unique challenges and difficulties for the Soldiers since they involve more complex movements than exercises routinely performed during Army physical readiness training.

The German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge has three levels of qualification: gold, silver and bronze. To earn the badge, Soldiers must successfully complete a shot put, long jump, 200-meter swim, 100- or 400-meter sprint, live fire on a 9mm handgun, and a ruck march with a 35-pound pack. Qualifications and scores are based on age and gender categories.

"By far, the hardest event to train for was the swimming because I am not a swimmer, and I am not used to swimming," said Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Collins, a clarinet player with the Army Ground Forces Band. "I spend my time outside the water, running, instead of in the water, swimming. The hardest event while qualifying for the badge is the 100-meter sprint, simply because I am not used to running that fast for that distance."

On May 17, German Army Maj. Oliver Wallkotter, a German liaison at Fort Bragg, held a ceremony where he awarded eight gold badges. Band members who earned the Gold German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge are Capt. Daniel Toven, Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Collins, Sgt. 1st Class Todd Corona, Sgt. Kristin Perry, Sgt. Curran Schenck and Sgt. Krysta Waters. Gold badge earners who are not a part of the band are Spc. Nancy Rios of B Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division and Cadet Eric Perry from B Company of Campbell University's ROTC Battalion.

"The training and the taking of the test certainly built esprit de corps with [the competitors], particularly those competing for the German Proficiency Badge," said Capt. Daniel Toven, commander and conductor of The Army Ground Forces Band. "It builds bridges and cultural awareness particularly with our German liaison, Maj. Oliver Wallkotter, and gives a window into their perspective into physical fitness in their military and it certainly builds our resiliency and physical fitness."

When asked to compare the requirements to earn the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge to those of the Army Physical Fitness Test, Toven said, "It's just more complicated."

Page last updated Wed May 29th, 2013 at 00:00