FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 11, 2013) -- There are many ways for Soldiers to one-up each other and keep each other motivated to achieve greatness in their military careers, and one way is by earning distinguished awards.

The German Liaison Staff of Fort Rucker is hosting the bi-annual German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge competition in May for participants to test their Soldiering skills.

The badge is for overall athleticism for different Olympic-style events that Soldiers will go through that are timed, tested and graded on performance, according to Lt. Col. Martin Geller, German liaison officer.

"It is not easy to get the badge because there are some disciplines that the Soldiers have never trained for before, and to see them train is always a little funny, but it is always a lot of fun for our side as well as on their side," he said.

The seven disciplines that Soldiers must compete in are: 100-meter sprint, 3,000-meter run, 200-meter swim, long jump, shot put, a road march with 35 pounds in a rucksack and a marksmanship event with a 9mm Beretta Pistol.

"I think it is a hard competition," said Geller. "We have the whole year to complete the competition in Germany; here the Soldiers have to complete it in six weeks."

The six-week competition consists of four weeks of training with the last two weeks being testing weeks. Training is mandatory for competitors.

Physical training starts at 6 a.m. and lasts an hour at the track behind the physical fitness facility. Soldiers should bring water and be dressed in summer PTs, according to Staff Sgt. Jamie P. Osmon, assistant trainer.

There are other mandatory prerequisites for Soldiers to compete and train.

"A written letter from the company commander is needed that says that the Soldier is allowed to prepare for the badge and has no discipline issues, and he or she must be trained in first aid before the training begins," said Geller.

The badge is awarded in bronze, silver and gold levels, and according to Geller is a real "eye catcher" and "conversation starter."

"This is the most interesting German badge I think Soldiers can earn. It looks great on the uniform and it is huge. Everyone wants to earn the gold, especially the Americans, but silver, I think, looks the best on their uniform," he said.

Besides earning a coveted, flashy award, Geller said one of the most meaningful things about the competition is the teambuilding skills that the Soldiers learn and the breakdown of barriers.

"Anyone can participate-- from a private to a general, males and females -- and they [train] together without any barriers of rank," he said. "They meet people they may not have otherwise, and they might be lifelong friends."

The competition can be exhausting, demanding and challenging, but Soldiers believe it is worth it in the end, according to Sgt. Maj. Mohamed Bouhloui, German Army liaison staff and GAFPB trainer.

"To compete and excel in something, especially a sport you have never done before, can be very gratifying to a Soldier," he said. "The professional character of a Soldier is important in this competition, too. This badge not only means that a Soldier can swim and run and shoot, but that they are a good overall Soldier who has firm discipline."

The deadline to sign up is April 29 with training beginning April 30, and is first-come first-served. Only 50 Soldiers can compete at a time.

To sign up, call 255-2554 or 255-2120.