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Thursday, Jul 24, 2014

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ROTC cadets march

Cadets march on bike path to earn German badge

Photo courtesy of: Army ROTC

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27 ROTC cadets earn prestigious German Proficiency Badge


A number of Army and Air Force ROTC cadets earned the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge on the weekend of March 15-17.

This was the third year that the Ohio University ROTC program hosted the three-day event that gave 73 cadets a chance to earn the award.

Participants included Ohio University Army and Air Force ROTC cadets as well as cadets from Ohio State University, University of Dayton, and Army National Guard and Reserves units.

The German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge (GAFP Badge) is prestigious in that it is one of few foreign awards that is authorized for wear on U.S. military uniforms even after cadets have been commissioned and moved into their professional careers. The badge symbolizes the extensive annual test given to German soldiers that resembles the U.S. combat and fitness tests, and was administered by German liaison officers.

Events needed to certify included: swimming, track and field (shot put, long jump, and100/200/400 meter sprints), a timed 3K or 5K run of choice, shooting competitions with a 9mm pistol, and a 12K foot march carrying 35 pounds of additional weight. This physically exhausting exam tests many more areas than the typical U.S. military fitness exam that is only made up of running, situps, and pushups.

"Earning [the GAFP Badge] gives cadets a cultural understanding and appreciation for what our foreign partners, the German soldiers, have to do to remain qualified every year," said Lt. Col. Terry St. Peter, professor of military science for the Ohio University Army ROTC program.

"It is not something you teach, but a really powerful thing for a cadet to go through," St. Peter said.

Of all 73 participants, 27 Ohio University cadets earned a gold badge and one student earned a silver badge. The other participants chose to recertify at a later date to increase their score.

Senior, C/2d Lt. Nick Preskar was one of the individuals awarded a gold badge, and although he is graduating it was his first time competing.

"It is a hard badge to get when you are in the Army. It is a nice thing that ROTC does," said Preskar. "The run was a long distance and if you keep pushing it shows your perseverance. When you finish you feel really accomplished for not quitting."

While the event was successful, it was not easy to plan on the part of the officers and cadets who coordinated the event. The event was planned for three days with multiple events happening simultaneously in different locations. In addition, when teams opted to move the 12K march to the end of the second day instead of the third those organizing had to work very hard to make it happen.

"It was pretty stressful to coordinate all of the moving parts and directing other universities that were unfamiliar with campus," said senior C/Capt. Cassondra Dick who earned her gold badge two years ago and played a major role in facilitating this year’s event.

C/Capt. Dick mentioned that even though she helped facilitate, it was a battalion-wide event that required a lot of communication and help from volunteers. Even cadets that were competing to certify, like C/2d Lt. Preskar, had the task of directing participants to the right areas for competition. The program also utilized 25 non-competing cadets for logistical support to help the even run smoothly.

It took weeks of advance planning to coordinate every detail as well as to secure the German liaison officers who traveled from the U.S. Marine Corps base in Virginia to administer the certification.

This event is one of many badges that ROTC cadets have the opportunity to earn during their time in the program at Ohio University.