News: Hungarian Soldiers have opportunity to fire American weapons
Story by Sgt. Jill Fischer
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - Hungarian Soldiers from Multinational Battle Group West visited Multinational Battle Group East's Camp Bondsteel May 14 for a team building exercise that included a day of qualification on U.S. weapons.
The qualification range day was created to work with multinational military forces, form cohesion between battle groups, and build a good partnership while becoming familiarized with each others' weapons.
Hungarian Soldiers spent the morning shooting the U.S. M9 pistol, which is very similar to their pistol, and the early afternoon shooting the U.S. M16A2 military rifle.
Preliminary marksmanship instruction was given to each Hungarian Soldier prior to the qualification range. This instruction, given by members of the 753rd Ordnance Company - Explosive Ordinance Disposal from West Virginia, showed proper breakdown, user-level maintenance, inspection, cleaning and use of the weapons. Each Soldier had the opportunity to ask questions and become familiar with the weapon before they fired it.
Maj. Shayne Simon, Alexandria, Minn., was the officer-in-charge of the range and Master Sgt. John Waters, Emerado, N.D., was the range safety officer.
Simon and Waters, both members of North Dakota's 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, conducted and controlled range operations.
Sgt. Major Laszlo Pasztercsak, sergeant major for the Hungarian company, helped Simon and Waters conduct range operations by translating instructions for the Hungarian Soldiers. Simon and Waters had worked with Pasztercsak for three weeks, primarily through email, to make sure the range ran smoothly.
"We lined everything up, making sure we had tents set up, meals available and enough Soldiers available to both fire the weapons and help work the range," said Waters. "We wanted to make sure they were treated as our guests."
"It was a long, hot day in the sun but the interaction between the U.S. and Hungarian Soldiers was invaluable," Simon said. "The overall atmosphere of the day's events was beneficial and enjoyable for all."
U.S. Soldiers were also present to help on the range. They loaded ammunition, helped set up targets, and coached the Hungarian Soldiers while firing.
Because of the tight schedule, the Hungarians did not have much time to calibrate the sights of their U.S. weapons, said Simon. However, by the end of the day qualification scores showed that they shot very well. "That can be attributed to the U.S. Soldiers individually coaching the Hungarian Soldiers," said Simon.
While the U.S. coaching helped the Hungarian's scores, it also gave the U.S. Soldiers a great chance "to work and communicate with multinational Soldiers," Waters said.
When the Hungarian Soldiers were through qualifying on the American weapons, Pasztercsak brought out the Hungarian rifles and gave interested U.S. Soldiers the chance to fire. Hungarians then became the coaches and, after orientation to the Hungarian rifle, U.S. Soldiers lined the range, eager to fire a weapon so often heard about - the AK63D.
"This was such a good experience," said Sgt. Mika Putz, Bismarck, N.D., an administrative noncommissioned officer for MNBG E. "It was challenging with the language barrier, but it helped that we had an interpreter there. Overall, it was fun to shoot different weapons."
"It was a good opportunity to get to know other Soldiers, teaching them about our weapons and learn about theirs," said Sgt. 1st Class William Gazar, Flagstaff, Ariz., the non-commissioned officer-in-charge of MNBG E's 160th Finance Detachment. "Any day on the range firing is a good day for me."
The Hungarian sergeant major and his Soldiers were very pleased with the day's outcome.
"Please let me again state how appreciative we are of the job that you and your Soldiers did yesterday. It was an excellent set-up, a beautiful day, and good military training; and another great opportunity to work together," Pasztercsak stated in an email.
"The very next day I saw one of the medics [that was an ambulance driver on the range], proudly showing pictures from the range to his co-workers," said Waters. "I asked him what his pictures were of, and he excitedly stated 'from the range yesterday.'"
Simon added, "Any time you get to work with multinational Soldiers in a fun environment, doing Soldier skills like shooting weapons, the overall enjoyment level will be high. Soldiers can look back at the end of this deployment and say they've done some pretty neat things."