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German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge Tests Physical and Mental Strength

By Sgt. 1st Class Emily Anderson | 80th Training Command | June 19, 2019

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. —

When Maj. Teresa Ruotolo, an Army National Guard Soldier assigned to the 165th Military Police Battalion, signed up for the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge test here May 31-June 2, she did not expect the difficulty of the task she had ahead of her.

“As a leader, I need to show my Soldiers that I’m willing to take on opportunities that are available, but this was way harder than I expected,” said Ruotolo. “This event tests your overall fitness because you have to have the endurance to go all three days.”

Hosted by the Regional Training Site – Maintenance Fort Indiantown Gap, the GAFPB included a flexed-arm hang for time, a 12-kilometer ruck march with a minimum of a 35-pound ruck, 1,000-meter sprint, an 11 x 10-meter sprint, a pistol marksmanship test, and a 100-meter swim in uniform to be performed under four minutes. The swim included removing the uniform while staying afloat.

This year’s test consisted of more than 100 Soldiers and Airmen striving to earn the coveted gold, silver, or bronze proficiency badge.

“I was surprised to see we had so many competitors, and I love seeing that we have Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard and Air Force,” said Command Sgt. Major Anthony Simpson, the 94th Training Division command sergeant major. “The fact we have Air Force and Active Duty taking the time to participate in something that a Reserve unit is having is a great thing.”

The RTS-M Fort Indiantown Gap falls under the command and control of the 94th TD, headquartered at Fort Lee, Virginia. The 94th TD supports the 80th Training Command's mission of more than 2,700 instructors providing essential training to Army Active Duty, Reserve, and National Guard Soldiers.

For Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Minter, an Army Reserve instructor assigned to RTS-M FIG and a participant in this year’s GAFPB, events like this test are just a continuation of being an instructor and a noncommissioned officer.

“I’ve come from units that have prepared me for tasks like this test, so it’s kind of muscle memory for me,” Minter said. “As an instructor, doing competitions like this keeps me grounded for the common Soldier and warrior tasks that remind me that we are still a part of something great.”

“This is about trying to be better all around, physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally,” Minter added. “We do it all the time as NCOs: instructing, teaching and training Soldiers. It’s the foundation of the NCO creed, knowing your Soldiers and training them to be the warfighter of the future.”

At the end of the competition, both Ruotolo and Minter were awarded a proficiency badge with 60 other participants during the closing ceremony, which Simpson served as the guest speaker.

“It’s not just something to wear on a uniform,” Simpson explained during the GAFPB closing ceremony. “It’s something a lot of people can’t do.”

“This event tests individual will, individual sacrifice, and individual preparation,” Simpson said. “When you want to set yourself above someone else, you have to do something that they can’t do, and that’s what the participants did here.”