GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Blue skies, white puffy clouds and a warm breeze greeted 37 soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, on June 24 as they steeled themselves for the challenging day ahead.

The soldiers participated in the German Armed Forces Badge for Military proficiency testing.

Established in 1980, the German Armed Forces Badge is an award for troopers who display physical prowess, weapons marksmanship proficiency and epitomize the army’s values. Though it is a German army award, allied nations, such as the U.S., can compete for and wear the award as well.

“It’s a wonderful thing. It really gets after the interoperability that we’re striving for,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey R. Huggins of the Joint Multinational Training Command. “The soldiers get a chance to work in a multicultural environment and get to experience the other nation’s weapons, their (physical training) tests, the proficiency requirements they have, both physically and tactically; it does a lot for them.”

To earn the coveted badge, soldiers must participate in several events. First is a 100-meter swim while wearing the Army combat uniform. Following the swim, soldiers must pass the German physical fitness test, which includes three events: 11x10-meter sprint, a flexed-arm hang, and a 1,000-meter run. Finally, soldiers must complete an 8-mile ruck march in less than two hours.

“These guys are going to remember what they did in Germany for the rest of their careers,” Huggins said.

Four soldiers took home a gold badge in the competition and 12 earned silver.

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