By Capt. Keith E. Thayer, First Army Division East Public AffairsOctober 10, 2013
FORT MEADE, Md., --- Camaraderie and fitness go hand-in-hand as Soldiers from First Army Division East's Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment found out recently when they began the arduous and demanding journey to earn the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge.
Five Soldiers from First Army Division East joined more than 350 participants in this year's competition. Sgt. 1st Class Robert Begley, Operations Noncommissioned officer in the First Army Division East Operations section, who has competed and earned medals in previous years, earned a Silver medal this year.
"The competition always pushes a Soldier to reach his limits. The events change, and the difficulty seems to increase as the years go by," said Begley.
The German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency established in 1980, is presented to individuals who complete a variety of mandatory physical and mental challenges, including the flexed arm hang, shuttle sprints, and the 100-meter swim in uniform.
German Sgt. Maj. Sven Theede, a member of the Bundeswehr, the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany, proctored most of First Army Division East's events.
"There were over 360 registered U.S. Service members, which is up 100 from last year. We had 26 German Soldiers participate in the foot march as well," said Theede of the recent testing.
Theede and other member of the Bundeswehr provide opportunities for U.S. service members to earn the badge by establishing guidelines, issuing the annual competition rules and requirements, and proctor the events. After participants completed all the events, Theede tallied the points and awarded participants bronze, silver, or gold proficiency badges based on their scores.
"The German Armed Forces put together a great event," said Cpt. Steven Lim, First Army Division East Intelligence Operations Officer. "It was well-planned, resourced, and executed. The new events were a challenge for most candidates. The post-ceremony activities were well received."
Staff Sgt. Francisco Medina, First Army Division East, said the competition did a lot more then showing off the physical abilities of the Soldiers who compete.
"I really enjoyed the whole experience. It's always fun to do any activity that builds moral and camaraderie with other members of the unit," said Medina. "We pushed each other as much as possible to make sure everyone gave the competition their all."
Once the scores were totaled, and The Bundeswehr ensured all standards were met, the awards were handed out. Every Soldier from First Army Division East received an award. After the ceremony, the Soldiers were treated to a bit of German culture, enjoying German food and music from a German band.
Headquartered at Fort Meade, First Army Division East brigades partner with Army Reserve and National Guard leaders to advise, assist, and train Reserve Component units to achieve Army Force Generation directed readiness requirements, ensuring combatant commanders around the world receive training and ready forces to support worldwide requirements. The Division's eight brigades are stationed across the Eastern Seaboard.