Cheney, Wash -- Service members from across the Pacific Northwest competed for the right to wear a decoration of the German Armed Forces. The competition, hosted by Eastern Washington University (EWU) Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC), took place November 17 through November 18, 2018.

The German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge (GAFPB), referred to in German as Abzeichen für Leistungen im Truppendienst, is a decoration of the Bundeswehr, the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Germany. The decoration can be awarded to all German Soldiers, and it is authorized to be awarded to Germany's Allies. Individuals can earn three distinct levels of the GAFPB; Gold, Silver, and Bronze. The GAFPB is authorized for wear by the United States (U.S.) military in all ranks. One of the few approved foreign awards, the GAFPB is extremely sought after by U.S. service men and women. The testing for the GAFPB must be administered by a qualified German Physical Training instructor.

During the two-day competition, 22 different U.S. units from across the region descended on EWU's campus. 168 Cadets, Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen from the Active component, Reserve component, and National Guard component took part in the challenging competition.

The competition began with the event known as the 100 Swim in Uniform. In this event each participant attempted to swim 100 meters (while wearing their combat uniform blouse and pants) in under four minutes and remove their blouse and pants while treading water. Those who failed the 100 Swim in Uniform were no longer eligible to compete for the GAFPB; the majority of EWU's GAFPB competition failures occurred during this event.

All eligible participants then traveled to EWU's "Jim Thorpe" Field House to execute the "Basic Fitness Test (BFT), consisting of three events that must be completed in under 90 minutes. The first event was the 11 x 10-Meter Sprint Test where participants sprinted eleven intervals between designated cones (10 meters apart) as fast as possible. The second event was the Chin-up Test where participants hung from a pull-up bar as long as possible. The third event was the 1,000 Meter Run, where participants ran 1,000 meters as fast as possible. Participants earned ratings (points) during the three BFT events and their overall score determined their eligibility for the Gold, Silver, or Bronze badge.

Once participants completed the BFT, they then traveled to the pistol range to execute the Pistol Qualification event. During this event, participants used the M9 pistol to engage three separate targets and their "hits" (successfully engaged the target) were recorded. Their number of "hits" determined their eligibility for Gold, Silver, or Bronze badge.

The final GAFPB event was the Ruck March, where participants carried a 15 kilogram (33 pounds) ruck sack on their back over a prescribed distance and under a prescribed amount of time. Those participants eligible for the Gold badge traveled 12 kilometers, those eligible for Silver traveled nine kilometers, and those eligible for Bronze traveled 6 kilometers.

Once the scorecards were complete, a total of 94 participants earned the coveted GAFPB; six Bronze, 53 Silver, and 35 Gold. EWU ROTC claimed the most badges with 27. They also had a 77% success rate, highest among the 22 participating units.

"The individuals who competed for the GAPFB this weekend, whether they earned a badge or not, are an excellent example of why the United State military is so great," stated Sergeant First Class Jason Hennig, EWU ROTC's Senior Military Instructor. "They recognized the opportunity for a unique challenge, they accepted that challenge, and gave it everything they had. Readiness is the Army's number priority and this event absolutely reinforced that. The Service Members that prepared for these events were rewarded with the opportunity to wear this unique foreign award. For those who did not prepare, they were left with the understanding of how important rehearsals and preparation are to any exercise or training event."

THE EWU ROTC program, over the course of four years, takes students with little or no military background and develops them into the Army's leaders of tomorrow.

The EWU ROTC has been training Cadets since 1952 and welcomed a total of 104 Cadets to its campus in Cheney, WA this September.