JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas —
Almost 400 Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen from Joint Base San Antonio, Fort Hood in Kileen, Texas; and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, competed in the 2018 German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge, or GAFPB, competition hosted by the collaboration of JBSA units at JBSA-Lackland, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, JBSA-Randolph and JBSA-Camp Bullis Oct. 26-28.
The GAFPB, or Abzeichen für Leistungen im Truppendienst (in German), is a decoration of the Bundeswher, the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The decoration can be awarded to all German military. Allied service members, such as from the United States, may also be awarded the badge to wear regardless of rank. The GAFPB is one of the few approved foreign awards in the U.S. military, and it is one of the most sought after awards to achieve.
There are several events throughout the competition that assessed service members’ basic fitness level and military training over the course of three days.
One of the events on day one was the pistol competition, in which the participant is given five rounds and must get a minimum of three rounds into three different targets. The competitor attains bronze-level for getting three rounds into the three separate targets, silver level for four rounds and gold level for hitting the targets with all five rounds.
“Since our weapons training is limited to our scheduled field training exercises, it is very helpful that we were given an opportunity to dry fire before going on the pistol qualification range,” said Army Cadet Staff Sgt. Alexander Torres, University of Texas at San Antonio Army Reserve Officer Training Corps.
Day one also captured the rest of the unit-driven military training events such as the first aid test and the Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical training.
Air Force Master Sgt. Brian Lowe, 343rd Training Squadron military training leader superintendent from JBSA-Lackland, validated the participants’ NBC skills competency in order to proceed with the other activities.
The first day concluded with the 100-meter swim, where the participants wore their military service utility work uniform. Swimmers had a time constraint of four minutes and upon completion of the swim, had to tread water and remove their uniform.
Day two continued with the basic fitness test consisting of an 11x10-meter sprint, a flex arm hang (chin-up test) and a 1,000-meter run. Participants who were not able to shoot their weapons during the first day were also given the opportunity to qualify at this time.
The last day of competition included the 12-kilometer ruck march. Each competitor rucked the distance carrying a 35-pound ruck sack with the goal of completing the course in two hours.
In the end, 161 out of 385 U.S. service members earned the GAFPB – either gold, silver or bronze. Their achievement was recognized at an awards ceremony held at Beethoven Maennerchor in downtown San Antonio Oct. 28.
“It's a good feeling to be able to work and train with my U.S. comrades,” said German Army Sgt. Maj. Ronald Schiller, Combined Arms Support Command liaison officer, as he congratulated the award recipients. “I have been doing this for about 30 years and I love it. I am proud of these dedicated men and women’s achievement today.”