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Maj. Todd Tinius
IU Department of Military Science

Last modified: Thursday, February 12, 2009

The cadets are coming

IU's Camp Atterbury to host more than 300 competing for prestigious German proficiency badges

Feb. 12, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Next weekend (Feb. 20-22), Bloomington will be flooded with hundreds of Army ROTC Cadets from 30 different Midwestern programs when Indiana University's Department of Military Science hosts the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency competition.

This is the third year that IU Bloomington has hosted the event. The expected turnout of 320 cadets (400 applied this year) tops last year's 210. In 2007, the first year IU hosted the event, 70 cadets participated. Eligible cadets come from schools in the 7th and 9th ROTC Brigades, which includes Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky and parts of Illinois. The growth of the competition is by word of mouth, as the competition is not advertised.



Cadets will compete for the privilege to earn and wear the sought-after German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency, one of the few approved foreign awards for members of the U.S. military. The medal originated in the German Army in 1980 and is one of the few decorations cadets can earn and continue to wear after their graduation. This decoration of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany has three grades (Gold, Silver or Bronze) that are awarded based on cadets' marksmanship scores and road march times and distances.

Over the weekend, participants will take part in a 200-meter swim at Edgewood High School; complete track and field events on the IU campus, compete in the 9mm pistol event at Camp Atterbury, an Army National Guard training site in Bloomington; and compete in a road march.

Lt. Col. Henry Banker, a training officer who will deploy to Iraq again soon, said he hopes the competition continues to grow each year so that an increasing number of cadets can participate.

"Today's military environment is more global. We have other units -- not just U.S. -- that support us, so we have camaraderie with different nations," Banker said, adding that the exercise allows cadets to come together from different programs and work together, encourage one another, and learn about another army's training standards.

"This international goodwill gesture exposes our cadets early in their military service careers to the importance of combined and joint operations with other services," Banker said. "The Germans are our respected and trusted allies. We are honored to share in this experience with them." The German liaison for this exercise is Karl-Heinz Grenzebach, Sergeant Major German Army.

To earn the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency, an ROTC cadet must:

  • Pass a physical and moral evaluation
  • Complete the Combat Life Saver (CLS) level 1 course or equivalent
  • Complete the German sports test, which includes a 100-meter timed sprint; a 3-kilometer (1.85 miles) timed run; a measured high-jump and long-jump; a 200-meter timed swim (any stroke authorized); and a measured shot-put or stone-put
  • Complete a 25-meter marksmanship test (9mm pistol only)
  • Complete a 9- to 19-mile road march carrying 15 pounds of gear

The first year of the competition, about half of the competitors went home empty handed. Last year, about 25 percent left without badges.

"It's a challenge for the cadets," said Banker. "They all learn something about themselves -- their inner strengths -- and how allies work together to achieve a common goal."