Servicemembers compete for foreign top honor
March 11, 2010
By Amy Sunseri
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz.--Soldiers stationed on Fort Huachuca have the opportunity to earn a foreign service award.
The German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge was established by the German Army in the early 1960s to measure physical fitness of their soldiers. Every German servicemember, in all branches, must complete one GAFPB each year.
The GAFPB can be obtained on military installations that have a German liaison officer. Seventeen installations in the United States, including Fort Huachuca, have a German liaison service. The German liaison service was established on Fort Huachuca in 1963.
"The main purpose we're [German officers] here is for the exchange of information in the field of military intelligence," said Lt. Col. Wolfgang Schueller, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca, German liaison team. Schueller and Sgt. Maj. Kay Rogge represent Germany at the German liaison office, located at the post's Riley Barracks. Since Schueller and Rogge are stationed at Fort Huachuca, Soldiers here have the chance to compete for the GAFPB.
The GAFPB is among the most sought-after foreign badge in the U.S. Army. To earn the badge Soldiers compete in a mixture of physical fitness tests, which include track and field events, first aid test, road march, swimming, and pistol qualification. Soldiers have one year to complete the GAFPB from the day they start.
Both male and female soldiers have two hours to complete the road march. To obtain the gold GAFPB Soldiers must march 7.5 miles in their field gear with a rucksack with a 33.1 pound load.
The attainment of each badge gives the Soldier the opportunity to be awarded different badges after they've completed the requirements for the 5th, 10th and 15th time. Most Fort Huachuca Soldiers receive the gold, silver or bronze GAFPB because they are not here long enough to complete the event five or more times.
Last year, 1,765 Soldiers stationed at Fort Huachuca attempted to earn the GAFPB. Seven hundred and six Soldiers were awarded the badge, with 557 obtaining the gold medal.
"They are proud because it's not so easy to get it, especially here in the U.S.," said Schueller.
The German Army holds all U.S. Soldiers who earn this award to the highest regard according to the German liaison officials. The Germans believe it is the most difficult badge for foreign servicemembers to earn.
"Most of the Soldiers say the road march is the toughest part," said Schueller.
Rogge added that the pistol qualification and swimming events are also hard for many Soldiers.
"You could have the world's greatest shooter, but if they can't swim they can't get the badge," said Schueller.
The GAFPB is not limited to U.S. Soldiers. Schueller says military personnel from across the world can compete in the German fitness test.
The German liaison officer has awarded the GAFPB to servicemembers from as far away as Africa. For more information about the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge, call 533-1208, or e-mail Rogge, firstname.lastname@example.org.