Last modified: Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Are you fitter than a German soldier?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 13, 2008
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Neither snow, nor rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of an Indiana winter day will stop nearly 400 Army ROTC cadets from competing in a road march of up to 19 miles this Sunday at Camp Atterbury, an Army National Guard Training Site. The event culminates a weekend-long series of physical challenges that comprise the German Armed Forces Badge of Military Proficiency (GAFBMP) competition being held at Indiana University Bloomington this weekend.
"The march is probably the hardest event of the weekend," said Maj. Todd Tinius, an officer in IU's Department of Military Science. "You'll see a lot of cadets walking funny Monday morning."
Beginning Friday afternoon, Army ROTC cadets from 21 schools from the 9th ROTC Brigade, which includes Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and parts of Illinois, will compete to earn the prestigious medal. Friday night's competition features a 200-meter swim. Saturday showcases track and field events including sprints, high and long jumps, shot-put, a 5K run, pistol marksmanship and a test in basic first-aid. And finally, on Sunday, cadets compete at Camp Atterbury in a timed march of between nine and 19 miles with 15 pounds of gear.
"These are not easy events. Cadets really have to earn this badge," said Tinius, who saw about half of last year's participants go home empty handed. "But once they do earn it, they can proudly wear it on their uniform for the rest of their lives. It's a very unique badge, and not many people have earned a GAFBMP across the armed forces."
The GAFBMP medal originated in the German Army in 1980 and is one of the few foreign badges American troops can earn and display. Also, it is one of the few decorations cadets can earn and continue to wear after their graduation. This is the second year that IU Bloomington has hosted the event, which has more than doubled in size.
Because of the number of cadets who want to compete for the award, Lt. Col. Eric Arnold and Lt. Col. Henry Banker have been planning it for nearly five months. Cadets will compete and stay in the Indiana Army National Guard's Armory in Bloomington and at Camp Atterbury free of charge. And rotation schedules for schools through locations and events are timed down to the minute to ensure every cadet gets a chance to compete.
"This competition has seen explosive growth through word of mouth alone," said Banker. "We're already at the limit of our facilities capabilities. It's almost too much for us, but it's worth it. We'll put on a great event."
Depending on how they perform, cadets can earn either a gold, silver or bronze medal. Additionally, performances required for each level vary with age and gender.
"It's a sexless event, but it is still extremely demanding no matter which category you fall in," said Tinius. "In the end, it builds team spirit and gives the cadets a sense of victory and achievement. And you can bet that those who don't make it will be back next year to try again."