CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo — About 90 Multinational Battle Group-East soldiers participated in the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency testing event in Kosovo on Aug. 2-6.

The German badge is a decoration of the Bundeswehr, the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany, and U.S. service members are allowed to wear the badge on their dress uniforms.

To achieve the badge, which can be earned at bronze, silver or gold levels, soldiers were tested physically and mentally through various events such as first aid, pistol marksmanship and a basic fitness test.

During the fitness test soldiers had to conduct a 10-meter sprint 11 times, a flexed-arm hang, 1,000-meter sprint, a 7-mile foot march carrying 33 pounds and a 100-meter swim wearing military fatigues.

For one participant, the 100-meter swim was the most challenging hurdle.

“The physical fitness tests were difficult and challenging and I was surprised by how heavy the uniform was when doing the swim test,” said Capt. Allen Jones, judge advocate with Multinational Battle Group-East. “I was not sure if I was going to survive the swim.”

Jones did survive the swim and was able to achieve a gold badge at the end of the events, but he credits it not only to his abilities but also to the atmosphere, as everyone cheered for one another.

“It was exciting as everyone was trying to preform their best and we cheered each other on,” Jones said. “It was gratifying to applaud and encourage our fellow soldiers.”

For Maj. Christian Risse, German army liaison officer for the battle group, it was great to see the soldiers giving it their all throughout the event.

“It’s really fantastic when you see the look in the soldiers’ faces fighting for this badge,” Risse said. “It really showed that they wanted the badge.”

Events such as this strengthen bonds with foreign counterparts, Jones said. He thoroughly enjoyed getting to know some of the German soldiers.

“It provides an opportunity for us to get to know soldiers from throughout partner nations, and to learn about their cultures,” he said. “I now have a greater appreciation for German soldiers and a high respect for the (badge).”

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