More than 250 Fort Leonard Wood Soldiers stood in formation on the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Plaza March 21 for a German Proficiency Badge Award ceremony, which marked the culmination of German Week on the installation.

During the ceremony, a delegation from the German army presented gold, silver and bronze badges to those who qualified during the Schuetzenschnur, or German Armed Forces Badge for Weapons Proficiency, and those who had earned the full German Armed Forces Proficiency badge.

German Liaison Officer Lt. Col. Dirk Veeck, said they had to bring in special German rifles, the G36, and pistols, the P8, along with German ammunition in order to hold the Schuetzenschnur event. He said the extra effort was worth it.

German Brig. Gen. Frank Schmitz, German Federal Armed Forces Office deputy commander, said the formation of American Soldiers who earned badges was "impressive."

"I'm always glad when I meet a U.S. (service member) in Germany wearing German badges, and the other way around, there are also a lot of German NCOs and officers who wear U.S. badges," Schmitz said.

Maj. Gen. Donna Martin, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, said the ceremony was one of the most special events of the week.

"It is rare for U.S. Army Soldiers to be given the opportunity to earn and wear a foreign badge," Martin said. "I know the Soldiers who earned these badges are honored and excited to add them to their uniform. Thank you to our German teammates for giving our Soldiers the opportunity to learn a little about the German army and also have some fun while competing."

Out of the Soldiers receiving the GAFPB, a quarterly event, 13 earned gold, 24 silver and 12 bronze. For Soldiers earning the shooting badge, 77 earned gold, 74 silver and 53 bronze.

Veeck said the German Week held at Fort Leonard Wood was modeled after the regimental weeks held by the three schools. Scheduled events brought together German and U.S. Army senior leaders from the Engineer, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear, and Military Police schools.

Veeck said the week serves multiple purposes.

"The German government called (for a) 'German Year' under the slogan 'Wunderbar together/Germany and the U.S.' (In all) we will have about 1,000 events (in various locations) to celebrate the German-American friendship and our shared history."

On Fort Leonard Wood, he said, it was an opportunity to gather German senior leaders from the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear, Engineer and MP branches to celebrate friendship while discussing maneuver support topics and the future.

"It was really a pleasure and a great experience to be here with our German delegation from the different branches," Schmitz said. "We had very good discussions, and this is a good basis to go on for the future."

Both Martin and Schmitz spoke of the importance in the U.S. and German allied partnership.

"It is of utmost importance to stand and fight together as brothers in arms," Schmitz said. "Cooperation in peace time is prerequisite to win the fight."

Martin echoed this sentiment.

"Working together in this capacity will only become more important because now more than ever, we will be faced with a future battlefield that is increasingly complex where we will need our teammates in order to be successful."

Martin added, "We may be from different countries, but we are very similar. We all have a desire to serve, a passion to protect our nations and the ideals we all hold dear. And we share the desire to work together as allies to make our armies better and our world safer."

Additional photos can be found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/fortleonardwood/sets/72157707815204944