By Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex
21st Space Wing Public Affairs Office
FORT CARSON, Colo. — “It was the best, worst fun I’ve had in a long time and I would absolutely go through it again.”
Senior Airmen Brian Parra, 2nd Space Operations Squadron satellite system operator, said he first learned about the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge several years ago, and has wanted it ever since.
His unit at Schriever Air Force Base sent five Airmen to compete and try to qualify for the foreign military badge at several locations at Fort Carson, June 30-July 1. Airmen who competed were Parra; Lt. Col. Todd Benson, 2 SOPS commander; Capt. Derek Day, 2 SOPS mission commander; Capt. Jonathan Plyler, 2 SOPS mission commander; and 2nd Lt. Mark Skinner, 2 SOPS payload systems operator.
The GAFPB is a decoration worn by German military of all ranks, but may also be worn by allied military members if their nation’s uniform code allows. To qualify for the badge, each participant must complete eight requirements, said retired Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 David Douglas, GAFPB senior evaluator.
He said each service member must complete a Combat Lifesaver Training course, demonstrate they can properly don nuclear, biological and chemical warfare protective clothing as well as meet minimum requirements in the 11 x 10 meter sprint, flexed-arm hang, 1,000 meter run/sprint, 100 meter swim in military uniform, a 12 km ruck and pistol marksmanship.
One of the most alluring parts of competing for the badge was that it takes a skill set that isn’t very common in the Air Force, Day said.
“From an Air Force perspective, it gave us a first-hand look at the physical competencies demanded of our Army and allied counterparts,” he said. “Through experiencing what they experience and by demonstrating that we could keep up, we built a mutual respect.”
Parra said it was a little intimidating trying to qualify for the award surrounded by Army on their turf, but in the end the networking added a sense of camaraderie when competing alongside fellow service members.
“The badge brings along a lot of esprit de corps for those testing with each other,” he said. “Everyone is feeling the same stress and physical demand to make the time hacks. It didn’t matter who was beating who or what unit they came from.”
Benson said being from a small unit allowed them to get to know the Soldiers better, and helped develop a better appreciation for our brothers and sisters in arms.
“My favorite part of working with the Army was how they brought us into their team,” he said. “During the ruck run, a Soldier was by my side motivating me for over 6 km — all the way to the finish line.”
The official results have not yet been released; however everyone from 2 SOPS finished each event with at least the minimum requirements and will receive the German Armed Force Proficiency Badge.
Unofficially, based out of the 66 participants, Douglas said 32 qualified for the gold medal, 23 qualified for silver and one qualified for bronze.
In the next couple months, Douglas said he wants to hold another qualification event, this time at Peterson AFB. There needs to be at least 50 participants interested to hold the event, so get friends and coworkers together and form a team.
Units from either Peterson or Schriever interested in hosting the event can contact Douglas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s see how space nerds stack up next to combat Army troops.