Fort Bliss, TX (KDBC) — More than 70 Fort Bliss Soldiers experienced a small piece of Germany military culture by participating in the German Armed Forces proficiency badge testing on April 16.
The events of the GPB are designed to test the Soldiers physical fitness using the German military’s assessment. After completing the course the participants received their badges.
The first event was the 100-meter timed swim at the Replica Aquatic Center at West Fort Bliss. Soldiers had to swim the entire distance while wearing their Army Combat Uniform and remove their uniforms while treading water. The swim was altered this year to mirror the new swimming standards set forth by the German military.
“The 100-meter swim was originally only used in the German navy to substitute the ruck march that the other branches of Germany military use in their annual physical fitness assessment,” said Lt. Dominik Zielmann, the sports officer of the German Air Force Air Defense Center located at Fort Bliss. “The swim is fairly easy as long as you have some basic swimming techniques down.”
For Zielmann this competition allows him to share a piece of his military culture with the Soldiers of Fort Bliss.
“For me as a German Soldier, I think it’s a great honor that people of other armed services are able to earn this badge and wear it proudly,” said Zielmann.
The Soldiers who passed the swimming portion of the test would have to prove they were up to the challenge during the remaining three events to earn the badge.
Day two of the competition was held on the track at Stout Gym. The Soldiers had to complete a 100-meter sprint, a pull up hang and a 1-kilometer (1,093 yards) run that were all timed and would determine their right to earn the gold, silver or bronze badge.
Day three of the competition, the Soldiers competed in the pistol shooting portion of the test. The Soldiers had to be able to hit the silhouettes using a German Heckler & Koch 9-millimeter pistol five out of five times while standing 25 meters away to maintain their current badge status. Failing to do so would drop them down a badge level.
For Sgt. Cory Bell, last year’s over all top finisher and an event judge for this year’s event, a portion of this year’s competitors represented a month of hard work and training for him and the Soldiers of 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. “I like to see the Soldiers start to motivate themselves,” said Bell. “When they first start out they don’t really realize how rare of an opportunity it is to do a German competition like this, but after they get half way through the events, I think it starts to hit them.”
That kind of motivation really came to light on day four of the competition when Capt. Matthew Watson, an officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 80th Civil Affairs Battalion, broke the old 12-kilometer ruck march record by completing the event in 1 hour, 2 minutes – six minutes faster than the previous recorded time.
His efforts pushed him past his peers and assured him the top spot of the competition.
“It feels great to just set it on cruise control and go,” said Watson. “I love getting out with the Soldiers and testing myself. Any athletic event where you test yourself is a great atmosphere; just makes you feel good.”
For anyone that thinks they’re up for the challenge, and would like an opportunity to compete for the GPB it will be held twice a year at Fort Bliss.
“It’s been a great opportunity to return some of the amazing hospitality that we’ve received here and we’re going to offer the course twice a year,” said Zielmann.