Soldiers earn German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge
May 24, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 24, 2012) -- German Armed Forces Proficiency Badges were awarded to 42 participating Soldiers at a pinning ceremony May 16, the culmination of six weeks of intense physical training.
Sgt. Maj. Mohamed Bouhloui, German Army liaison staff member and training supervisor for the Soldiers, led off the ceremony with a welcome to friends and Family as well as some background information on the prestigious award.
"The German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge is a foreign award offered by the host country Germany" said Bouhloui. "It was made available to U.S. service members [starting in] 1972, and is based on overall military performance, physical ability, and, most importantly, the overall professional character of the Soldier."
Lt. Col. Martin Geller, commander of the German Army liaison staff, praised Bouhloui, who he called a "real grunter," for supervising all training exercises, even at the expense of his own leisure time.
"Sergeant Major Bouhloui has been training Soldiers for the event for two years and has awarded a total of 139 of the badges in gold and silver on Fort Rucker," he said
He also highlighted the contributions Staff Sgt. Jamie P. Osmon and Sgt. 1st Class Michael Maxwell, assistant trainers for the competition, both of whom were supportive throughout all days of training as well as the specification test week.
"I think [the competition] is a good interest for both sides," said Geller. "[The American Soldiers] learn a little bit of German military culture and the Germans learn a lot of things as well [from their American counterparts]."
The badge itself is awarded in gold, silver and bronze, and the level of award received depends on performance in the road march and shooting portions of the exercise. Other events Soldiers must compete in include a 100-meter sprint, 3,000-meter run, long jump, 200-meter swim, and shot put throw, according to Osmon, who emphasized the difficulty of competing at this level of athleticism.
"Only Soldiers possessing a high level of aptitude and discipline can be recommended to compete for the badge," said Osmon. "The Olympic-style events are based on the Soldier's age group and are on a pass or fail basis. The pistol competition requires Soldiers to hit three targets with five rounds from the 25-meter line. The road march is the culminating event, where Soldiers carry no less than 15 kilograms (33 pounds).
"Soldiers compete for esprit de corps, self-fulfillment and satisfaction, to enhance their DA photograph to get looked upon favorably by promotion authorities with a foreign award," he added.
"For me, it was a real pleasure to hear about the results in all the specific events," said Geller. "I have seen and heard about your fighting spirit, your comradeship and your team spirit. I remember, during the road march portion, seeing the friendly behavior, selflessness, boundless help and great comradeship.
"I always like to see young and sometimes older experienced Soldiers working together; officers, warrant officers and NCOs fighting as a team to reach this goal. I've seen and heard that you were all fighting to the point of exhaustion. Hopefully you will all remember this event, this team, this year and the special German-American friendship for the future," he said.
Of the 42 Soldiers who received the badge, only two received the silver badge, with the remaining 40 receiving gold.
Master Sgt. Jeffrey Herzog, a participant and recipient of the badge, praised the level of encouragement and teamwork evident throughout the training.
"It was an amazing experience to see some of the motivation that Sergeant Major Bouhloui provided every morning," said Herzog. "The level of competition from within the group, it was a great team building experience."
Herzog also discussed how German Army athleticism compares to U.S. Army athletic testing.
"As far as the run goes, it was very competitive compared to the U.S. Army Physical Fitness Test run," he said. "The road march was very comparable to an air assault road march and the swim was a challenge for some people. The long jump was the hardest event for me."
Herzog also received a coin from Geller and was recognized during the ceremony for his commitment to ensuring that he and his wife, Capt. Deborah Herzog, who also competed for and received the badge, finished together.
"It was just all about making sure we both got through it," he said.