OTIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. –Three Airmen from the 102nd Intelligence Wing earned the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency in a ceremony hosted by the Massachusetts National Guard on September 9, 2017 at the Boylston Schul-Verein German-American Club in Walpole, Massachusetts.
The GAFBMP is one of the few foreign military decorations that Airmen are authorized to wear on their dress blue uniforms. In order to earn the GAFBMP Airmen are required to pass a 100 meters swim event in their Airman Battle Uniform, combat oriented medical training, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear defense test, pistol qualification and finish a 6.5-mile road march carrying more than 30 lbs. in their rucks in under 2 hours.
According to the German soldiers who administered the test, American service members face a tougher challenge because they only have 3 days to finish all the events while members of the German military are allowed a year to do the same.
“About 20 percent will fail due to the swim,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jay Vincent, a senior personnel advisor assigned to the Massachusetts National Guard. “This is a go or no-go event, so you must pass it to move on to the next part.”
When asked about the most difficult part of the challenge, Staff Sgt. Jason, a member assigned to the 102nd IW said, “it’s definitely the swim. Mental strength is where it comes in. You’d be surprised what you can do if you just push through it. I was about four laps in, my pants were falling and I was getting winded. You just got to keep going and don’t stop.”
Out of the three Airmen Jason is the only Airman from 102nd IW to achieve gold, which is the highest award of the GAFBMP.
While Jason said he thinks the swim is the worst part, Staff Sgt. Sean Lindsey, a member assigned to the 102nd Security Forces Squadron, who earned a silver GAFBMP this year said he thinks the flexed arm hang event is the most challenging for him.
“It requires a lot of upper body strength to hold that for a while,” said Lindsey. “I tried training doing different pull-up hangs throughout about a month before.”
Lindsey thinks the overall experience has been positive for him, and he said every young Airmen should try it at least once in their career if they have the opportunity.
Just like Lindsey, Jason also said it’s been a great experience. “It wasn’t too stressful, and the German cadres were great.”
The GAFBMP is one of the most highly sought after foreign military decorations among Airmen and Soldiers, according to a memo from MA NG Headquarters.