CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo – During their time in the military most service members will become familiar with a specific group of weapons, and fire these same weapons year after year, to maintain and improve their marksmanship skills with these weapons. Firing a foreign weapon system is a rare opportunity not many Soldiers receive; however U.S. Soldiers and German troops both had this opportunity during a recent training event.
U.S. Soldiers visited Orahovac, the German shooting range on Oct. 20 for a chance to qualify with the German issued P8 pistol, G36 rifle and the MG3 machine gun.
“The American Soldiers are going to fire our weapons, after a familiarization class, for qualification,” said German 1st Lt. Johannes S. “If the Soldiers qualify with our weapons they will receive the Schutzenschnur Medal.”
The “Schutzenschnur” is the German Armed Forces Badge for Weapons Proficiency and is authorized to be worn with the Class A uniform by enlisted Soldiers who earn it.
“Going out and firing the German weapons was a rare opportunity for us,” said Staff Sgt. Alberto Mantilla, Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, military police officer, 544th Military Police Company, Multinational Battle Group East. “It’s a great chance for our Soldiers to see what other nations are firing and to expose them to new things.”
The 35 U.S. Soldiers who participated fired all three weapons and their scores were recorded and used to calculate which of the Schutzenschnur Medals would be awarded: bronze, silver or gold.
The German troops took their turn at firing the American weapons at Camp Bondsteel on Oct. 22.
“(German soldiers) fired the M4 and the M240,”said Mantilla, Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, and a member of the Puerto Rico National Guard. “They shot both weapons for qualification according to Army scoring methods.”
“I really like the (M4)”said German Petty Officer 1st Class, Andre A. “It’s a little heavier than our rifle, but the recoil is really limited.”
After the Germans fired the American weapons a ceremony was held for the award presentations. Medals were awarded to qualifying Americans, while eligible Germans received certificates and badges signifying their qualification.
The medals and certificates are always nice to have but it’s the event and experience that the service members from both nations will remember.
“This has been a lot of fun,” said Spc. Juan Carlos Munoz, 544th MP Company, Coamo, Puerto Rico. “Coaching these guys on our weapons has been a lot of fun. Letting them fire our weapons and getting to fire theirs is pretty special. It’s something I’ll always remember.”