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Airmen earn German proficiency badge; forge relationships

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AFNS) -- Twenty-four Airmen from the 19th Air Support Operations Squadron will be sporting new accoutrements on their uniforms after competing for the coveted German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge, April 4-7, 2017, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

The badge is a military decoration worn by the Bundeswehr, the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany and it is an uncommon award for U.S. service members to earn. The GAFP Badge is prestigious in that it is one of few foreign awards that is authorized for wear on U.S. military uniforms.

“It’s an honor to represent our international allies on my uniform,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Evan Conde, a 19th ASOS tactical air control party specialist. “It’s good to have something like this because now I can relate to one of our NATO allies a little better. It gives us a common understanding because we’ve both gone through the same thing.”

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.

“I think it’s a pretty good thing for the U.S. guys to see how we do things in Europe,” said German air force Maj. Nader Samadi, the Air Ground Operations Squadron commander. “We were invited to come and do the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge and go on a close air support exercise with them. It’s interoperability with our forces’ NATO partners and we really appreciate the opportunity to come here.”

In order to earn the badge, members of the 19th ASOS excelled in a weapons test, swimming test, agility test and finally a rucksack march.

“I’d say the ruck was the hardest part, because if you ran you were disqualified and typically most guys run when they’re rucking,” said Conde. “So that whole walking factor was just something that I’ve never done.”

While there were minor differences, Conde said the difficulty of the assessment was reasonable when one considers everything the small TACP community already asks of him.

“I think the swimming portion is the most fun,” said Samadi. “You get to swim about 100 meters in four minutes with your (uniform) on. Then take the stuff off in the water without drowning. So, I think that's tough.

“I think it’s a great opportunity. This definitely helps forge the relationship between German and US JTACs (joint terminal attack controllers). It would be great if this is able to continue within the units.”