July 1, 2009

Virginia troops vie for German Armed Forces Badge

By Sgt. John Slosser
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

FORT PICKETT, Va. — Thirty-four Virginia National Guard Soldiers from various units spent part of their annual training at Fort Pickett in June trying to earn the Abzeichen für Leistungen im Truppendienst, the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency. To earn the badge, Soldiers must complete a list of physical requirements such as swimming and track and field events, and Soldier tasks such as demonstrating accurate marksmanship skills and marching with a rucksack.

  German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge
A Soldier from the 116th Brigade Combat Team competes in the high jump as part of the requirements for the German Armed Forces Badge of Military Proficiency during annual training at Fort Pickett. The Soldiers must pass three different events and have a choice between a timed 1,000m run or 100m dash, a measured high jump or long jump, and a measured 16 lb. shot-put or 33 lb stone-put. (Photo by Spc. J. Erin Jones, 116th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs)

“This is great because it gives them a chance to do some joint training. It also gives them a chance to train with foreign nation’s equipment,” said Capt. Richard Harrison, officer in charge of administering the German Proficiency Badge requirements. “It is a chance for them to do some Hooah training. It is not like the Expert Infantry Badge, where you can only host it once a year, this can be done over an entire year program.” 

Several German Soldiers came to Fort Pickett from the German Barracks in Reston, Va., to provide weapons instruction on German-issued pistols and rifles. Soldiers from both countries took turns firing each others weapons and asked questions about the other’s military.

  German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge
A German Army Soldier gives instructions to a Virginia Guardsman attempting to qualify with a German weapon as part of the test for the German Armed Forces Badge of Military Proficiency. (Photo by Spc. J. Erin Jones, 116th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs)

“I like being challenged so I volunteered to go for it,” said Private 1st Class Isaiah Luce, from Company A. 1st Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team. “(They German Soldiers) were really cool, we got to exchange weapons for a while. We liked theirs, they liked ours. It was a good break from the field to do some different stuff.”

For those Soldiers who qualify, the culminating event, a 12-18 mile rucksack march, will be conducted Sept. 30 at the German Garrison in Reston during German-American Day. American Soldiers who do earn the badge are then certified to go back to their units and certify their own Soldiers internally.

“This is an opportunity to earn some 'iron,' as I like to put it," Harrison said. "It is a chance to earn something that they can actually put on their chest and wear on their uniform. It is challenging. You have to stay motivated. You can do it as long as you don’t quit.”

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