Swim for gold
214th Fires Brigade Soldiers cut through the water in the 200-meter swim during the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge competition June 25 at Fort Sill, Okla. The badge represents overall athleticism for different Olympic-style events, including running and marksmanship.

There are many ways for Soldiers to motivate each other to achieve greatness in their military careers, and one way is by earning distinguished awards.

The German liaison staff of Fort Sill, Okla., and the 214th Fires Brigade hosted the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge competition during the last week of June for participants to test their soldiering skills the German way.

Dating to the 1970s, the badge was awarded to German soldiers as a way to show others that they had met all the proficiency requirements that were and still are needed to be a soldier.

The badge is prestigious in that it is one of few foreign awards that is authorized for wear on U.S. military uniforms.

It symbolizes the extensive annual test given to German soldiers that resembles the U.S. combat and fitness tests, and must be administered by German liaison officers.

The badge is for overall athleticism for different Olympic-style events: 100-meter sprint, 3,000-meter run, 200-meter swim, long jump, shot put, a road march with a 35-pound rucksack and a marksmanship event with a 9mm pistol.

The scores on each event determine not only if an award is earned, but what category of award be it gold, silver or bronze.

In comparison to the Army Physical Fitness Test, Spc. Dwane Powell, a health care specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery said, "I think this event was a little less challenging for me, but it could have been challenging for the other Soldiers participating in the competition.

"I believe everyone who competes in the event should strive to achieve the gold badge," said Powell. "It was a fun competition, and I was expecting more Soldiers to participate in the event."

During the last day of the competition the competitors tested their marksmanship abilities on the pistol range.

Unlike the Army standard of qualifying with an M16A2 rifle or M4 carbine rifle, the German standard is qualifying by hitting four out of six targets with a 9mm pistol at a 25-meter target.

Hitting six out of six kept Soldiers in the running for gold badges.

Afterward, Soldiers tested their mental toughness and stamina during the ruck-march. Those Soldiers who endured the full 12-kilometer route earned gold; 9- and 6-K finishers received silver and bronze respectively.

For Spc. Rodney Drummond, an ammunition specialist assigned to A Company, 168th Brigade Support Battalion, his favorite event was the 200-meter swim. In contrast, Drummond wasn't a big fan of heaving the shot put.

"Everyone was telling me that I could not complete this event. It took me three tries before I actually made the distance I needed," said Drummond. "After completing the shot put, I felt like LeBron James after he won his second championship ring.

"I have accomplished something that I have never done before."

Every year, German soldiers are required to take the proficiency test from privates to generals, males and females.

The competition can be exhausting, demanding and challenging.

Page last updated Wed July 3rd, 2013 at 00:00