NEWS | Dec. 1, 2017

U.S., allied soldiers strive for German readiness award

By Sgt. David Nye U.S. Army Central

Soldiers from the U.S. Army and other NATO countries rucked, shot, swam, and ran their way to success during a Nov. 14 – 26 challenge to earn the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge at Camp Arifjan and Camp Buehring, Kuwait.

The overall challenge consisted of four major events including an early morning swim, the German physical training test, a ruck march, and a pistol qualification.

“It’s a great opportunity for us as Americans to come together with our German counterparts to overtake the GAFPB,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Hurtado, a member of the 1st Theater Support Command.

Service members from other militaries, including the armed forces of Britain, Singapore, France, and others, took part in the event.

“I love it,” said Hurtado. “I love that we getting involved with all these different militaries. We have the Italians, we have the Germans, us, and just meeting different people who have the same mission.”

“This is a very rare opportunity for U.S. Soldiers to get to earn a foreign-service badge’” said Capt. James A. Hill, also with the 1st TSC. “The German Armed Forces proficiency badge is one of the few that we can wear with our dress uniform.”

The participants began by completing a 100-meter swim at the Camp Arifjan pool on Nov. 16, an event that challenged soldiers’ mental and physical fortitude.

“It makes you overcome your fear because when you’re sitting in there and you get gassed out and you can’t breathe and you’re just fighting to finish,” Hurtado said after the swim. “It makes you overcome and pull everything out of you.”

Contestants were able to achieve the bronze, silver, or gold level of the award depending on their performance on the PT test, ruck march, and pistol shoot that followed the swim.

The PT test consisted of a shuttle run, a flexed-arm hang, and a 1000-meter sprint. The ruck march was between 6 and 12 kilometers long depending upon which level of the award an individual was working toward. All soldiers received five rounds for the pistol qualification and had to hit targets between three and five times.

“Some of the benefits that the entire GAFPB has that our PT test doesn’t necessarily do, is this is more physically engaging in terms of combat readiness,” said Hill. “We start off the morning with 10-meter sprints. If you’re in combat you’re not going to be running 2 miles, you’re going to be running 10-meter sprints.”

While the GAFPB is a novel test for U.S. Soldiers to use to assess their combat readiness, many service members took part in the assessment simply because they thought it would be a fun challenge.

“I wanted to do the GAFPB because I am a high-speed soldier and this is about the coolest thing you can do here,” said Hill.

“I think it’s a great thing, what we did,” said Hurtado. “Getting all the different armed forces together to get to know each other and to just do physical testing and shooting and rucking.”