By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterNovember 17, 2011
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Nov. 17, 2011) -- The German armed forces proficiency badge was awarded to 22 out of the 37 Soldiers who competed to earn the prestigious award Nov. 7.
The ceremony kicked off with Sgt. Maj. Mohamed Bouhloui, German army liaison staff member and training supervisor for the Soldiers, welcoming the family members, guests and participants with a slideshow that showcased what the Soldiers had to endure over the past four weeks.
"The German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge is a foreign award offered by the host country, Germany, made available to U.S. service members in 1972," said Bouhloui. "It is based on overall military performance, their physical ability and most importantly, the overall professional character of the Soldier."
Bouhouli is responsible for all the proficiency badge events and has trained nearly 100 American Soldiers who have earned the badge, according to Lt. Col. Martin Geller, German liaison officer.
The badge itself is awarded in gold, silver and bronze, and the badge that is awarded is determined by the results of the road march and shooting performance portions of the exercise, said Bouhloui.
"The pistol qualification requires a Soldier to hit three targets, with five rounds from 25-meters away, and the road march is the culminating even where Soldiers must carry no less than 15 kilograms of gear throughout the march," he said.
The remainder of the events that the Soldiers must complete to get the badge include the 200-meter swim, long jump, 100-meter sprint, shot put and the 3,000-meter run.
Members of the German Army liaison staff, family members of the participants and the participants themselves came together for the awarding ceremony where the participants were presented with the badges.
Of the 22 Soldiers who received the badge, only one received the silver badge, with the remaining 21 receiving gold, said Geller.
"It's not easy. It's not a piece of cake to get this specific German award. I know some of these athletic disciplines are not known in the U.S. armed forces and were never trained before," Geller said in reference to events such as the shot put and long jump.
According to Capt. Jose Nunez, participant and recipient of the badge, the hardest events for him were the long jump and the shot put.
"The technique that's involved in the jump and the shot put, you've got to do it right," said Nunez. "[The shot put] is not like throwing a baseball -- the ball is really heavy."
Capt. Kiera Zimmerman, also a participant and recipient of the badge, spoke of how the long jump was the hardest event for her. "It's not something I was used to. The shot put was easier for me because I have a lot of upper body strength."
"I think it's awesome that we get the opportunity to earn a foreign-service badge, you don't get that opportunity everywhere," said Zimmerman.
In order to be eligible to compete for the badge, the Soldiers must possess a high level of aptitude and discipline to be recommended to compete for the badge, said Geller.
"The company commander has to sign a letter that says that the specific Soldier is without any disciplinary problems. [The Soldier] must have a clean record," Gellar explained.
Geller congratulated all of the Soldiers on their accomplishments and expressed how impressed he was with their performance.
"I heard that you were all fighting through the point of exhaustion," he said. "We in the German armed forces had a whole year to fulfill all of these events and you all did it in four weeks. Congratulations again."