BAMBERG, Germany — With April's "Year of the NCO" theme being diversity, having non-commissioned officers from U.S. Army Bamberg unite with German soldiers seems appropriate.
Soldiers from Warner Barracks welcomed members of the German army's 2nd Company, 466th Maintenance Battalion for two days of training, interaction and camaraderie.
Bundeswehr Staff Sgt. Stephanie Wichert, from 4th Company, 466th Maintenance Battalion, said the experience was both positive and constructive.
On the first day, the troops spent the day learning to qualify with the M16-A2 rifles and on the second day, the troops did the same thing with the M9 pistols.
NCO's assisted all the soldiers through a process of familiarizing them with the weapons.
"There is no better soldier than an NCO to take care of this task," said Sgt. 1st Class Ramon Caraballo, the officer in charge of range when the troops qualified with the M16-A2. "We are the ones who teach, train and mentor soldiers."
Having the NCO's be safeties for the German troops is fitting during this month's Year of the NCO theme, Caraballo said, because it not only shows NCO's celebrating diversity with their German counterparts, but it displays the diverse responsibilities NCOs share as leaders.
Wichert, who served as the translator for her sister company's soldiers, agreed that having the experience of NCO's leading the event and providing advice was highly beneficial and special.
The knowledge and experience of an NCO collaborating with the troops provides meaningful responses to complex situations, they said. Their feedback is immediate and productive.
From teaching the soldiers how to respond to a malfunction to adjusting their sights on the M16-A2 rifle, the NCO have the skills and understanding to advise and resolve issues the German troops may encounter.
"NCO's will catch it right away," Caraballo said.
The NCO's were also able to explain to the troops in detail the difference between weapons systems the Army uses.
Although the shooting was an enjoyable experience for both the Germans and Americans, the social events were even more gratifying.
"American hospitality in Germany," Wichert said.
The host nation soldiers stayed in transit billets while visiting their American counterparts.
The group went out to an Italian restaurant in downtown Bamberg, ate lunch at one of the dining facilities, took a tour of the Freedom Fitness Facility and had a cookout with the Military Police.
"We laid the ground work for future events," said Rich Sherman, from Bamberg's Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security who helped organize the event.
In September and February, the Bundeswehr invited Americans to join them during their qualification to earn the German Marksmanship Badge known as the Schutzenschnur.
Caraballo said, "in return, we applied the same concept and reciprocated their generosity."
The two military organizations are looking to cooperate more in the future and plan on inviting their counterparts to a variety of upcoming events, to include training and social gatherings.