NATICK, Mass. – Several Soldiers from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center, or DEVCOM SC, competed in the prestigious German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge 2023 event. The competition was held at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts.
The German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge is awarded by the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Germany. The award is one of the few approved foreign awards for which U.S. Soldiers may compete.
The competition at Hanscom Air Force Base included a basic fitness test comprised of three events, including a sprint test, chin-up test, and a 1,000-meter run. The event also included a military training portion comprised of a swim-in-uniform test, a first-aid test, and NBC (nuclear, biological or chemical attack) MOPP (Mission Oriented Protective Posture) test, a pistol qualification, and a road march.
Seven Soldiers from DEVCOM SC, including Staff Sgt. Christopher Ennis-Beckford, Spc. Eun Lee, Spc. Faith Matsuura, Pfc. Guillermo Cabral, Pfc. Ethan Menendez, Pfc. Austin Ontiveros, and Pvt. Japheth Sims Valle competed in the event.
Ennis-Beckford won the Gold award. Cabral won the Silver award. Lee and Matsuura won the Bronze.
Ennis-Beckford is at DEVCOM SC on Active Duty Operational Support orders, and he is vital to the organization because of his skillset as a 42A Human Resource specialist. He was modest about winning the Gold award at the competition.
“We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare,” said Ennis-Beckford. “It felt great to do it and actually pass it.”
The Gold award winner found the swimming portion of the event most challenging.
“We had to swim in our uniforms,” said Ennis-Beckford. “So, you might think you are a great swimmer until you have that weight on you, and you have to swim 100 meters in uniform. It definitely wasn’t an easy task.”
Another Soldier participant, Ontiveros, particularly liked the range/pistol qualification portion of the event and enjoyed the spirit of the competition overall.
“It was definitely super rewarding to go in and try to tackle it and give it all I’ve got,” said Ontiveros.
Ontiveros, as well as some of the other DEVCOM SC Soldier participants in the event, serves as a Human Research Volunteer, or HRV. During their temporary duty period at DEVCOM SC, HRVs participate in a wide variety of studies, including protective clothing and equipment testing, cold-weather/hot-weather clothing and equipment testing, physical performance testing, nutrition studies and sleep studies — to name just a few research areas.
HRVs play an important role in the research, development, and testing of Soldier equipment, clothing, and combat rations. HRVs also help researchers garner a better understanding of human performance.
Ontiveros is proud that his participation in Soldier studies will help researchers better meet the equipment and performance needs of future Soldiers.
“It’s definitely great to know that things we are working on here now in real-time will be helpful in developing items that will help future Soldiers,” said Ontiveros.
Ennis-Beckford serves in the Headquarters Research Development Detachment, or HRDD at DEVCOM SC. As part of his duties, he provides guidance to Soldiers and supports HRVs by helping to ensure they are in the right locations at the precise times to best support DEVCOM SC’s research mission. He recognizes the important research being done by DEVCOM SC scientists and engineers and the important role HRVs play in that research.
“It’s rewarding to see how so many things that are used in the military were originally developed here,” said Ennis-Beckford.
About DEVCOM Soldier Center: The DEVCOM Soldier Center is committed to discovering, developing, and advancing science and technology solutions that ensure America’s warfighters are optimized, protected, and lethal. DEVCOM Soldier Center supports all of the Army's Modernization efforts, with the Soldier Lethality and Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Teams being the DEVCOM Soldier Center’s chief areas of focus. The center’s science and engineering expertise are combined with collaborations with industry, DOD, and academia to advance Soldier and squad performance. The center supports the Army as it transforms from being adaptive to driving innovation to support a Multi-Domain Operations Capable Force of 2028 and a MDO Ready Force of 2035. DEVCOM Soldier Center is constantly working to strengthen Soldiers’ performance to increase readiness and support for warfighters who are organized, trained, and equipped for prompt and sustainable ground combat.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) outreach and mentoring the next generation of scientists and engineers are also an important part of the mission of DEVCOM Soldier Center. The mentoring of students by Army scientists and engineers benefits the students and their communities. It also increases young people's awareness of potential Army job opportunities and helps provide the Army with potential new talent, helping to fuel innovative ideas that benefit the nation's warfighters and the nation as a whole.
DEVCOM Soldier Center is part of DEVCOM. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, DEVCOM leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation's wars and come home safely. DEVCOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.