Members from CJTF-HOA strive for gold during German military proficiency challenge in Djibouti
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen from the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) shed sweat and tears to overcome demanding physical challenges for a chance to earn the coveted German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge (GAFPB) at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Dec. 8, 2017.
This was the first time a GAFPB qualification course was held at Camp Lemonnier. German troops stationed in Djibouti volunteered to administer and monitor each: a basic German physical fitness test, a swim test in uniform, a foot march and pistol marksmanship.
“Each of these tasks, they may seem simple on their own,” said Lt. Andree Brieholz, a member of the German Armed Forces Military Police, and German liaison for the competition. “But the short amount of time allowed between each event makes it more difficult to complete.”
Competitors from CJTF-HOA included a diverse mix of service members from multiple branches that are often engaged with building strong relationships with partner nations and allies.
“Having the chance to compete for the GAFPB is a unique opportunity,” said U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jerimiah Griffin, lead organizer for the event. “It’s also an opportunity to see how the Germans approach the test and engage with them in a different setting.”
The badge is a military decoration worn by the Bundeswehr, the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Germany, and is highly sought after since it is one of the few approved foreign awards that U.S. service members can wear.
“This class of GAFPB competitors had 94 out of 114 (82%) successfully complete the course,” Griffin said. “That’s way above the typical 65 percent pass rate.”
40 service members were awarded the gold GAFPB, 37 received silver, and 17 received the bronze award.
The competition for the GAFPB at Camp Lemonnier has largely been considered a success, spurring a proposal to host the event in the spring when the next rotation of German soldiers arrive in Djibouti.
“It was a fantastic event,” said Brieholz. “It was a great opportunity to come together with soldiers from different branches and countries while doing a military competition.”