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Al Udeid Air Base service members test for German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Brigette Waltermire
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing

Military members at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, participated in the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge test from Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2020.

The event was administered by members of the German armed forces, with more than 30 participants from Germany, France, Italy and other coalition forces, as well as the U.S. Army, Air Force and Navy.

The GAFPB test includes a basic fitness assessment with sprints, an arm hang, a 1,000-meter run; a 100-meter swim; a ruck march; and a marksmanship qualification event. Depending on the cumulative score from each event, members are awarded a badge from the bronze, silver or gold level.

While the test happens over the course of a week, the physical challenges that arise each day present a new obstacle for many participants.

“The test we do is nothing that is trained and done in all militaries” said Lt. Col. (GS) Florian H., the senior national representative for the German detachment. “For instance, you have to swim 100 meters in your uniform in a limited time and have to get out of your uniform in the water without holding on to anything. Doing that is not only a physical challenge after an exhausting swim, but also a mental challenge as you have to accept that you will be underwater to get out of your uniform.”

The physical and mental demands of the test fostered a bond between the different services and coalition forces creating an environment of support and encouragement between the participants.

“We all knew how much the struggle sucked and how great it felt to succeed,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Compston, a medical technician for the 379th Expeditionary Medical Group. “The test appears difficult on paper, but in practice … rather than being a purely physical challenge, there was a lot more mental strength involved than I first imagined. Pushing through the pain and hearing the motivation and encouragement from the other participants really solidified new friendships. Seeing coalition forces like France, Germany, Italy and the U.S. all supporting each other will be a great memory for me.” 

German personnel conducted the event in addition to their normal duty tasks each day. The test events took about a week to complete while the preparation spanned about two weeks. Despite the difficulties in balancing schedules, the detachment offers it to as many participants as possible.

“Working in a multinational environment is much more than just doing the operational task,” said Florian. “And events like the one we offer can serve as a door opener in strengthening the international cooperation beyond pure operational business. It gives people a unique chance to broaden their horizons and learn something about other nations. In my opinion, this helps in building up comradeship and friendships.”

Organizing the event itself requires the participation of multiple forces on base. The German detachment worked with members of Special Operations Command Central and the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron explosive ordnance disposal team to organize the shooting range qualification and help with testing.

“I was happy to assist with the ammo and provide a range for the marksmanship event,” said U.S. Army First Sgt. Francis Reyes, deployed with Special Operations Command Central at Al Udeid AB. “I was proud and happy when I saw that everyone made it. In life, different obstacles make us want to quit just like the GAFPB did. We must push through them and learn from them to help us prepare for the next challenge we may face.”

The culmination of the test events meant so much more since everyone earned a badge, he added. When Reyes did the test, only 68% of his class of 175 people received the badge. Having everyone make it in a smaller class demonstrated the importance of total support.


“Team building was a big issue when everyone was strangers at the beginning of the week,” said Florian. “Seeing everyone working together and helping each other clearly demonstrates that joint and combined is so much more than a phrase. The people who participated in this weeks' events showed what you can achieve if everyone works together as a team.”

A badge ceremony was held Dec. 4 for the participating members, who cheered each other by name onto the stage with loud applause as they all received their badges. A stark contrast to the awkward encouragement at the first event five days earlier.

“It is the highlight of my deployment so far,” said Compston. “Participating in the event and meeting new people from all over the world was awesome. Being awarded the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge is a memory that I will never forget.”