GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Given the traditional 15 to 20 percent pass rate, the Expert Field Medical Badge stands apart as one of the most prestigious and difficult to earn awards an Army medical professional can obtain. Soldiers know and speak of the badge chiefly by its acronym, EFMB, and it is synonymous with three 'T's": technical ability, tactical proficiency and Soldier tenacity. Among military medical professionals the EFMB is literally a badge of excellence.

The 212th Combat Support Hospital, 30th Medical Brigade hosted and facilitated the qualification of events for more than 200 Soldiers U.S. and NATO coming from posts across Europe seeking to earn the badge from March 20 - 30 at the Grafenwoehr Training Area (GTA).

Qualification for the badge is considered a grueling experience by those who have earned it. Participants are required to exhibit superior physical fitness and mental toughness while accurately and effectively performing complex life-saving medical tasks in a variety of hostile environments and situations. Consequently, the majority of participants are knocked out as "No-Go's" by the third day of testing. The EFMB is considered the medical equivalent of the Expert Infantryman's Badge, but is said to be far harder to earn.

During the week participants ran a gauntlet of tests including a formal six-page written test with questions in general military and medical knowledge, preventive medicine, map reading and land navigation trials conducted during both day and night. Participants endured a battery of test scenarios that included Tactical Combat Casualty Care, Medical and Casualty Evac Tasks as well as Leadership/Warrior Skills Tasks.

The week of testing culminated in a Twelve-Mile Forced Road March known as a 'Ruck-March', that must be completed by candidates within three hours while carrying a standard 35 pound kit of fighting gear.

The GTA, situated in the heart of central Europe is renowned by Army Training Network professionals for its authentic battlefield scenarios, their authenticity and realistic environments. The scenarios designed for the EFMB testing was purposefully intense to simulate combat conditions Soldiers would most likely experience in the field and the EFMB facilitators and controllers worked closely with representatives from the from the GTA to create the jarring sounds and distractions, realistic casualties, surprise pyrotechnics, smoke and opposing force activity in order to replicate a combat experience tailored and relevant to medical scenarios.

This is my second try at the badge," explained Capt. Joseph Ahlborn, Chiefof Ancillary Services at the U.S. Army Medical Department Activity Bavaria's Hohenfels Health Clinic. "The testing was intense and the scenarios both realistic and challenging. The GTA is hands-down the best place in Europe for this kind of training and testing and it was a real fight to stay in the 'Go' list of participants." Ahlborn said. "Earning this badge is one the highlights of my Army career."

Of the more than 200 Soldiers who began orientation and testing March 20 sixty-three emerged to accept the Badge from Col. Brian Almquist, Commander, 212th Combat Support Hospital, at the Grafenwoehr Tower Barracks Gym Mar 30.

In his congratulatory remarks to the new EFMB badge holders Almquist spoke also to the more than 300 U.S. and multinational NATO Soldiers and servicemembers who had come out to greet them and recognize their long ordeal and hard work to attain the EFMB.

"These Soldiers epitomize not only the Army Values, but Soldier Readiness" said Almquist. They should be rightly proud of their achievement today; the intelligence, tenacity and dedication to earn the badge makes them truly outstanding Soldiers, whether they serve in the U.S. Army or among the Allied forces we train and serve with." he said.

Addressing the more than 350 assembled Soldiers and civilian well-wishers from the lectern Keynote Speaker Brig. Gen. Phillip Jolly, Deputy Commanding General Mobilization and Reserve Affairs Director Army Reserve Engagement Cell, said "They have shown that they can treat life threatening injuries, protect and defend themselves and their Soldiers, that they can get them evacuated and to the next level of care, with care and speed, and in the most challenging and punishing combat environments and scenarios. Their testing here this week at the GTA proved that they are truly experts, symbolized in the Expert Field Medical Badge." said Jolly.

Speaking directly to the sixty three U.S. and foreign EFMB Soldiers Jolly concluded, "People are going to be counting on you. You'll know what to do. That's when all your hard work - embodied in the badge you wear - is really going to pay off."

ABOUT THE EXPERT FIELD MEDICAL BADGE
United States Army medics who see combat action on the front line, in the midst of battle, have been eligible to earn the Combat Medical Badge since 1945. In June 1965, the U.S. Army expanded its awards program by implementing the Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB) for combat medics who do not see battle.

Rigorous testing in the classroom and in performance exercises qualifies the military medic from both the U.S. Army and Air Force, as well as NATO Soldiers to earn the EFMB. While not actual combat duty, the test itself is so difficult that only 16.2% of those who tried it passed it in 2016. The EFMB is considered one of the most prestigious Army skill badges of all.
Applicants must have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification to take the test. They must also have passed the Army Physical Fitness Test and the M16 or M4 Weapons Qualifications within 12 months of test application.

Today, the EFMB test is the utmost challenge to the professional competence and physical endurance of the Soldier Medic. It is the most sought after peacetime award in the AMEDD, and while the Combat Medical Badge is the "portrait of courage" in wartime, the Expert Field Medical Badge is undoubtedly the "portrait of excellence" in the Army all of the time. Description: An oxidized silver badge 15/16 inch in height and 1 7/16 inches in width consisting of a stretcher crossed by a caduceus surmounted at top by a Greek cross.

The Medical Corps insignia of branch, modified by the addition of a Greek cross suggesting the Geneva Convention between the wings and the entwined serpents, signifies the recipient's skills and expertise. It is superimposed upon a stretcher alluding to medical field service.

Soldiers candidates can consult EFMB test control website for guidance at https://www.us.army.mil/suite/page/140048.