GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- What does it take to set up an event like the 2011 U.S. Army Europe Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB) Standardization and Testing? At a glance, more than 400 cadre, graders and support personnel from units throughout Europe, some working 12 to 13 hours a day for much of the last four months.

For the more than 250 candidates hailing from both U.S. forces in Europe and the German Bundeswehr, this year’s EFMB began at the Grafenwoehr Training Area on Sunday with a standardization week.

For many of the candidates and support staff drawn from all over Europe, working toward the USAREUR EFMB event began earlier this spring.

“After about four months of planning there is about a week and a half to two weeks of a lot of work and a lot of practice,” said Sgt. 1st Class Troy Ramsey, non-commissioned officer in charge of EFMB Combat Testing Lane (CTL) 1. “We come out here and we physically establish the lanes and then we run them over and over again as graders and candidates to make sure that everyone uses the exact same standard in grading.”

The testing period consists of a written test, three separate combat testing lanes, day and night land navigation courses, and a 12-mile road march, each requiring a large number of personnel and resources.

“We have sourced all of the requirements that we would need,” said Master Sgt. Harold Pharis, NCOIC of the land navigation course. “We also participated in the four month planning sequence of every lane, every point and everything that has to be done. Then once we came to the day of execution we came out here and essentially put our plan in place.”

The setup and planning was only the beginning. After the testing lanes were established, officials from Fort Sam Houston, Texas, were brought in to validate and ensure that each lane was up to standard.

“The lanes are validated to make sure that they’re not too easy or not too hard,” said Master Sgt. Peter Perkins, NCOIC of CTL 2. “They all need to be exactly the same length with the same tasks throughout each lane.”

To many of the graders, cadre and support personnel who have earned the EFMB themselves, training up the next generation of medical personnel is the ultimate goal.

“The overall focus of the Expert Field Medical Badge is to not only use the technical parts of the training, but to take the tactical parts as well,” said Sgt. 1st Class William M. Ambrose, NCOIC of CTL 3. “We’re merging them together and making the best medics that we can. Working in the hospital or out of the hospital; in Afghanistan, Iraq or wherever they may be needed, we know that they are proficient at what they do.”

In spite of the long hours and hard work required of them, the morale of Soldiers working behind the scenes of the EFMB is high.

“I am proud to be here in USAEUR among such great warriors,” said Master Sgt. Abdel Guzman NCOIC of EFMB. “The Soldiers here deploy constantly. We ask the Soldiers to go above and beyond and they came out here with such great attitudes. They are disciplined and they are intuitive. I am definitely proud to be part of this event right now and be able to serve alongside these Soldiers.”