SAN ANTONIO, Texas --
Bi-annually, American service members are given the opportunity to show their determination and fitness by completing the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Germany’s extreme military fitness test, the Bundeswehr. This year, eight 70th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing Airmen passed the test and were honored for accomplishing the feat.
To complete the test, service members did not travel to Germany, but German Armed Forces members travel to San Antonio to test each participant over three days.
Unlike the current Air Force physical training test of a mile and half run, push-ups and sit-ups in an allotted amount of time, and depending on age and gender, the German military test has seven tasks and no bias.
Airmen were notified of the opportunity to test several months ago, giving them time to prepare.
“Most of us were briefed by Capt. William (93rd Intelligence Squadron) on the opportunity to compete back in February,” Senior Airman Shea, 93rd IS, said. “The majority of us met twice a week for specialized training sessions where we would focus on speed-work and muscular endurance, along with rucking and swimming.”
The task at hand was completing a 10-meter sprint in under 60 seconds 11 times, a 1,000 meter run in less than six and a half minutes and a chin-up hang test. All tasks had to be completed within 90 minutes.
If that wasn’t enough, there was also a 100-meter swim while wearing the service-specific uniform, a first aid test, the nuclear, biological and chemical mission oriented protective posture test, pistol qualification and a rucksack road march with at least 3.75 miles completed within two hours.
Sounds easy right?
On ‘game day’ the participants were up early and ready. The Airmen said it was not a warm and cozy morning either. Wearing only physical training shorts and short sleeve shirts, they waited almost three hours, in mid-40 degree weather and with 30-mile per hour winds.
"The toughest part was waking up at 0230 to leave by 0330, to go wait around in the cold until roughly 0530, everything else was just fun," Senior Airman Nicholas, 543rd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group said.
To properly prepare for this type challenge, Airmen have to know their strengths and weaknesses, and pre-test themselves prior to test day so they have a benchmark for improvements as they train, said Staff Sgt. Michael, 93rd IS.
Once Airmen know their weaknesses, they can design their workouts around preparing for the testable events, he said. “If your shuttle-run time needs to decrease, work on sprint intervals; if your chin-up hang time needs to increase, work on pull-up/chin-up endurance. Many members underestimate the difficulty of the physical challenges this badge requires of them and fail as a result.”
Michael said the experience is not for everyone, and may be difficult for those who normally work in an office environment.
“GAFPB (German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge) is a great experience overall,” he said. “It is a challenge that not everyone even wants to try for, especially in the field of intelligence, where a sedentary lifestyle is more common. Our desire to compete… sets us apart from the start.”
In addition to the personal challenge, 70th ISRW team members also appreciated the camaraderie they felt during the competition, not only with each other but with joint-service members as well.
“Committing to the challenge and pushing for that next level badge was genuinely competitive fun, which was only made better by the fact that we completed the competition together,” Michael said.
“I really enjoyed the camaraderie I felt with the other Airmen from the 70 ISRW,” said Capt. William. “Getting up from our desks and experiencing some of the things that much of the rest of the military has to do helped to shine a light on what we are supporting every day.”
For more information on participating in the GAFPB, go to: http://www.benning.army.mil/mcoe/glno/