Ohio National Guard News

Ohio National Guard Soldiers compete
for coveted German military badge

Story by 1st Lt. Aaron Smith, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs

Staff Sgt. Matthew Crabtree performs a medical assessment on an infant less than one month old.

Lt. Col. Daniel Long (right), deputy commander for the 174th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, shakes hands with Sgt. Maj. Walter Ising, a liaison officer with the German army, during the administration of the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency, conducted in late September at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Long was one of about 160 Ohio National Guard and active-duty Soldiers and Army ROTC cadets who competed, and one of 29 ONG Soldiers who earned the coveted badge during the two-day event.

GAFBMP badgeATHENS, Ohio (12/06/17) — After two grueling days of competition, 29 Soldiers from the Ohio National Guard earned the much sought-after German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency (GAFBMP), one of the few foreign awards approved for wear on the U.S. Army Service Uniform.

The event, hosted by Ohio University’s Army ROTC program this September, featured numerous challenging physical and mental tasks, testing each competitor’s basic fitness, and performance in swimming, first aid, marksmanship and a ruck march.

“I definitely like to challenge myself and I’m very competitive,” said Spc. Colten Pfeifer, an air battle management systems operator with the 1st Battalion, 174th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, headquartered in Woodlawn, Ohio. “The most challenging event was definitely the swim test.”

Pfeifer participated alongside about 160 other Ohio National Guard and active-duty Soldiers and ROTC cadets, some traveling hundreds of miles for the opportunity to compete and earn a gold, silver or bronze award. Each award level classifies the color of the decoration each Soldier could receive based on a points-based system.

“My favorite part about this event was meeting Soldiers from other units and cadets from different schools,” Pfeifer said. “I am pretty confident in how well I’ve done.”

The GAFBMP is a decoration of the Bundeswehr, the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Germany, and the competition must be sponsored by a German officer.

The sponsor for this event was Sgt. Maj. Walter Ising, a liaison officer with the German army who is stationed in the U.S. Ising sees this competition as a great example of the longstanding partnership between his country and the United States.

“Seeing these young future leaders striving for something creates a great bond,” Ising said. “How much effort is put in is just amazing, how the Soldiers and cadets are challenging themselves.”

The physical requirements to obtain the GAFBMP are strenuous and challenging, requiring dedicated preparation. Several competitors trained upward of 3-4 months in hopes they might walk away with the coveted badge for their uniform.

Of the 36 Ohio National Guard Soldiers who competed, 29 walked away with their ribbon rack a little heavier, having received the foreign badge. Of those 29, 15 Soldiers earned gold, 13 including Spc. Pfeifer earned silver and one earned bronze.

“Events like the GAFBMP provide great opportunities for all Soldiers to showcase their abilities,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Long, deputy commander for the 174th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, who also earned a silver badge. “This event enhances a culture of fitness at the unit level when these Soldiers return.”

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