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News | Jan. 31, 2017

Judge Advocate Earns Prestigious German Military Proficiency Badge

By Capt. Christopher French, United States European Command

STUTTGART, Germany – U.S. Navy Cmdr. Tom Jones, deputy staff judge advocate (SJA), United States European Command (EUCOM), was awarded the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency (Gold) by German Army Col. Helmar Storm, EUCOM and U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) German Liaison Officer, in a ceremony, Dec. 21, marking the only U.S. Navy service member to achieve gold level in 2016.

Part of the EUCOM mission is to strengthen partnerships with our European allies. Cmdr. Jones’s accomplishment set an inspiring example for others at EUCOM. The German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency is one of the few foreign awards approved for wear on U.S. military uniforms. To earn the award, a service member must complete four phases of testing and demonstrate physical prowess, endurance, marksmanship skills, first aid, and knowledge of nuclear, biological and chemical protective gear.

Phase one is a 12 kilometer ruck march wearing a 33 pound rucksack and dressed in full combat uniform. Phase two is a 100 meter swim wearing a combat uniform which must be completed in under four minutes. Additionally, service members must demonstrate the ability to remove the outer layers of their uniform while treading water and without touching the side of the pool. Phase three is a marksmanship test utilizing North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) weapons. Phase four is a German military fitness test which consists of three timed events: a shuttle run, a flexed arm hang and a 1,000 meter sprint. After completion of the fitness test, a service member must also pass a first aid test and a nuclear, biological and chemical protective gear test.

“This was a great opportunity to interact with our NATO partners in the field while learning more about how they conduct operations,” said Jones. “As a leader in the modern global military environment, regardless of rank or position, any opportunity to physically test our individual limits while gaining experience from interaction with our partners is time well spent.”

Jones completed all four phases of testing from October to December 2016 in various locations and German military bases around Stuttgart. Within the Stuttgart area, more than 200 U.S., NATO, and German military personnel participated in the training. In 2016, only 20 people earned the gold badge (level III).

“The marksmanship phase was the most difficult part of the testing because I had no previous experience shooting a German rifle,” said Jones. “After a brief round of familiarization with the NATO weapon, I was able to qualify largely due to previous marksmanship training I received when I was stationed with U.S. Navy SEALs.”

Headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, EUCOM is a joint forces command responsible for preparing ready forces, ensuring strategic access, deterring conflict, enabling the NATO alliance, strengthening partnerships, and countering transnational threats to protect and defend the United States. There are currently about 62,000 active U.S. military personnel authorized in Europe, including 52,500 that directly support EUCOM.
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