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Soldiers try out for German badge

Soldiers of the 192nd Brigade put their marksmanship and athletic skills to the test March 7-11 when 37 Soldiers set out to earn the German Armed Forces Proficiency badge, one of the few foreign awards approved for American Soldiers.

Of the 37 Soldiers, only 11 qualified for the award. Three received the silver badge and eight received gold.

The events included a road march, which required Soldiers to carry 33 pounds or more in a rucksack for 7.5 miles in 120 minutes or less. The pistol and rifle phases required Soldiers to engage three targets with a 9mm pistol from a 25-meter distance.

The German “Schuetzenschnur” was conducted in conjunction with the badge qualification. Soldiers participating in the Schuetzenschnur were required to zero their personal weapon, either the M4 or M16, prior to the qualification.

Other events demonstrated the Soldier’s athleticism in timed events based on age and gender. The events included a 200-meter swim, long jump, shot put, 100-meter sprint and 3,000-meter run.

Sgt. Major Bernd Rabenstein of the German Infantry liaison office said there were differences in what the German soldiers and American Soldiers were accustomed to, but overall he said he was impressed with how the Soldiers performed.

Capt. Nathan Gilliss, assistant operations officer for the 192nd Brigade, who also oversaw the events, said some of the events were new to Soldiers but said he was impressed at the outcome.

“The long jump and the shot put are events that most (of today’s) Soldiers have never done before,” Gilliss said. “But for this many Soldiers to (have done it for the first time) and have this many pass it was great.”

Gilliss said he enjoyed working with Rabenstein and the knowledge he shared.

“When you share information, you start to develop professional connections,” Gilliss said. “And with those connections, you can fight shoulder-to-shoulder. The closer we work with our allies, the more we can learn together.”