TF Red Dragon Soldiers Awarded for Skill in German Armed Forces > Virginia National Guard > News


Fifty-seven Soldiers and Airmen assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa earned the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge July 4-5, 2022, at Camp Simba, Kenya. The badge is a test of fitness and marksmanship with three reward levels that can be earned: gold, silver, and bronze. It is a decoration of the Bundeswehr, the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany.

“Bringing a competition like this to a deployed outpost such as Camp Simba took patience, time and coordination,” said U.S. Army National Guard 1st Sgt. Donald Spring, first sergeant of Bravo Company, 1-116th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Red Dragon. “One of the biggest hurdles to overcome was the planning and the ability to bring everyone together to put on the event.”

“We contacted the German Embassy in Washington DC,” Spring said.
“They informed us that there was a German embassy in Nairobi. The conversation started in May and finally came to fruition over the past two days.

Validating the GAFPB meant bringing in someone from the German military to witness the event. Defense Attaché of the Federal Republic of Germany Sgt. Major Christian Nitschke is assigned to the German Embassy in Nairobi. Through coordinated efforts, Nitschke was able to make the trip to Kenya.

“I’m here to observe,” Nitschke said. “For many of these young soldiers, it’s a great experience and a great opportunity. I was able to speak with some of them, and they had a lot of questions. Part of our job, we as German soldiers abroad, we are ambassadors of our armed forces.

To earn this prestigious foreign award, service members must pass a rigorous series of physical tests.

On the morning of July 4, 84 U.S. service members completed a 100-meter swim assessment while in full uniform. They were allowed four minutes to swim the distance and before getting out of the water they had to take off their combat tops and bottoms and throw them outside the pool.

Of the 84, only 57 remained to compete in the next requirement: a three-event Basic Fitness Test (BFT). The BFT consisted of a pull test (arm bent), an 11 X 10 meter sprint test and a 1000 meter run. Each event included time requirements that determine the level of badges earned by attendees.

On the second day, participants weighed backpacks (minimum 33 pounds) and completed a timed road walk. Requirements for gold included a 7.4 mile walk in under two hours, 5.6 miles in under an hour and 30 minutes for silver, and 3.73 miles in under an hour for the bronze.

From there, they moved on to the final event: pistol shooting. Participants were given five rounds to hit three targets. They had to hit all three targets at least once and fire the remaining two shots at the target of their choice.

“Once the participants got into the competition, they realized how tough it was,” said Spring, who earned the GAFPB silver badge while deployed to Kuwait in 2017.
“How eye-opening it was, especially the swimming.”

A total of 57 soldiers obtained the GAFPB. Twenty-six won the gold badge, 28 the silver and three the bronze.

Members of Task Force Red Dragon accounted for 49 of the badges earned with one member of the 25th Infantry Division and seven Airmen assigned to Camp Simba.

“Special thanks to Sgt. Major Nitschke,” Spring said. “Without their support (from the German Embassy) this would never have happened. planning allowed us to put this in place in just two days.