By U.S. Army Europe Public AffairsSeptember 13, 2013
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- In the dead of a pitch black night, a Soldier's face is inches from a map illuminated only by the red glow from his head lamp. The rain pours from the starless sky and makes his task that much more difficult.
His pencil finds the last point on his map and he quickly stands upright; letting his vision adjust to the dark woods in front of him. Somewhere in the dark, his destinations are waiting for him to find. Finding them is imperative and is the culmination of months of training for one of the hardest thing he'll ever do.
U.S. Army Europe's Expert Field Medical Badge standardization and testing event in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Sept. 7 through 17 provided U.S and partner nation medical personnel the opportunity to improve their medical proficiency and readiness and increase their understanding of different nations' medical tactics, techniques and procedures.
"What 30th Med and the teams are doing is superb," said USAREUR Commander, Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell. "The training that I've seen today is first class, well run lanes, very well organized, and I think it will be a great training event for those that earn the coveted EFMB."
This year's EFMB was hosted by 421st Multifunction Medical Battalion. More than 250 candidates are taking part in the challenge, including nine participants from the United Kingdom and Belgium.
"I'm happy to have the opportunity to compete for the EFMB because there are only four Belgians here. There were a lot of other Belgian medics that wanted to come here, so it's a privilege," said Belgian Army Sgt. Jeremy Vercaemer, with the 1 EMI (Unit Medical Intervention) "It's a bit of an adaption for us because it is a different way of working. In Belgium we don't have competitions like this."
Although the EFMB is a U.S. Army badge, USAREUR invites coalition partners and medics from the U.S. Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps to participate.
"It not only gives a service member a sense of pride that they've earned the prestigious, coveted badge that it is, but it also lets their peers see that they are an expert in their field," said Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Moak, senior clinical noncommissioned officer for the Department of Nursing at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and EFMB Combat Lane One testing NCO in charge for year 2013.
Moak earned his badge in Fort Carson, Col., in 2002 and has been a cadre member for the EFMB almost every year since. Last year was the first time that he was cadre for the USAREUR EFMB and this year he is the lane NCOIC. During that time he saw last year's international candidates as well as this year's nine candidates.
"I'm extremely impressed on how the international service members come out and participate in the EFMB," the San Antonio, Texas, native said. "I'm very honored to have this opportunity to train with these international Soldiers: to learn their culture, to learn their way of life, to learn their medical experience as they learn ours as well."
During EFMB testing, all participants had to:
• demonstrate their proficiency at tactical combat casualty care, standard and non-standard evacuation operations,
• take a written test,
• execute U.S. Army Warrior, communications and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosives tasks,
• perform day and night land navigation,
• complete a 12-mile road march.
"At my first EFMB in 2011, with four other German Soldiers, I failed the written test by one question, and I got a go on the other tasks but ultimately the written test got me kicked out," said German Air Force Capt. Lars Hoenig, a medical doctor for the Military Medical Hospital in Hamburg, Germany. "Then I came back last year in 2012 and got my badge with zero no-go's."
When Hoenig came back in 2012 to compete for the badge again, he did not expect that the next year he would be invited back to sit on the event review board. For this year's event he became the first international service member to ever sit on an EFMB review board.
He said he was honored to be invited to be one of the board members and wishes more service members from other nations could have taken the invitation and competed for the coveted badge.
"I'm disappointed that there are not as many foreign soldiers this year," Hoenig said. "In all of our missions abroad, we have to work together."
USAREUR plans to continue expanding multinational participation in the EFMB and other training opportunities. Conducting joint and multinational training events helps provide a more ready and agile force for contingency operations around the world. These training and partnership opportunities allow USAREUR to build enduring partnerships for regional and global security.
"In the future when we work together with Americans, we will have a better idea about how to work together because of the EFMB," Vercaemer said.
The coveted, prestigious award has a passing rate of five to 25 percent, making it one of the most difficult badges to earn in the U.S. Army and most definitely the most difficult in the U.S. Army Medical Corps.
"I think it is very important for us to work together and train together," Hoenig said. "I will not say that everyone gets the badge because it's hard, but if you want it and you are motivated and you study hard, everyone can earn it."
For more information visit the USAREUR EFMB website at http://www.eur.army.mil/EFMB. To see more images from the event, take a look at the EFMB gallery on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usarmyeurope_images/sets/72157635448202701/.