HOHENFELS, Germany (April 30, 2018) -- Soldiers obtain awards and accommodations as a result of hard work and exceptionalism throughout their careers. However, to earn a proficiency badge from another country can be an accolade worthy of boasting about for years to come.

Eighteen U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC), Hohenfels, Germany, volunteered to compete for the coveted German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency (GAFB) April 12-13 and 19.

The event was sponsored by the German Army Regensburg Bundeswehr Reserve, using JMRC's facilities in the Hohenfels Training Area, which greatly increased the number of soldiers who were able to participate.

"I realized that Soldiers from the consolidated maintenance section, the combat camera section, and the Headquarters and Headquarters Company staff junior enlisted Soldiers didn't really have a chance to qualify for a foreign badge," said 1st Sgt. Derek Bassett, senior enlisted adviser with HHC.

So, Bassett used his connections he made during his tenure with the Falcon Observer Coach/Trainer team to reach out to the Regensburg Bundeswehr Reserve, and he spoke with German Army Sgt. 1st Class Huber Beer, to arrange the event.

"Joint training is very important," said Beer. "Just as it has proven during missions in recent years; for example in Afghanistan. It strengthens bonds between long-lasting allies and promotes mutual understanding. It also helps us learn from each other and to gather and exchange experiences.

"For me personally, it is important to strengthen personal friendships and to keep up the partnership with JMRC units, which has lasted for more than 25 years. It's always a pleasure to work with our U.S. counterparts."

The competition included a 100-meter swim in uniform to be performed under four minutes, which included undressing in water, a 1000-meter sprint, an 11 x 10-meter sprint, a flexed-arm hang for time, a 12-kilometer ruck march with a 33-pound ruck, and a marksmanship test using the German manufactured Heckler and Koch USP Pistol.

Staff Sgt. Charles Bailey, a combat documentation/production specialist assigned to JMRC, was eager to earn the coveted badge.

"I was not sure what to think before starting this event," said Bailey. "However, as I started completing each event, I was able to dig within and make sure that I completed the other events as well. It's competitions like this that definitely make you wonder what else you can accomplish if you really put your mind to it."

Participants competed against themselves. In order to move on to the next phase of the competition, they had to meet the set standards for each event.

The standard for the ruck march was to complete approximately seven miles in 120 minutes for gold, five and one half miles in 90 minutes for silver, and nearly four miles in 60 minutes for bronze. The marksmanship standard was shooting five targets for gold, four for silver, and three for bronze at a distance of 20 meters.

Of the 18 U.S. Soldiers who competed in the event, two received gold, 12 received silver, and two received bronze, while two others will need to return at a future date to earn their badge.

"I believe that participating for the German Army Proficiency Badge builds relationships," added Bailey. "It gives us the opportunity to see how the other army works, as well as create an environment for comradery with our partner nation."