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    US, Belgian MPs give partnership ‘their best shot’

    Shelling out

    Photo By Bryan Gatchell | Adjutant Peter Van Den Block, a reservist with the Belgian armed forces who also works...... read more read more



    Story by Bryan Gatchell 

    U.S. Army Garrison Benelux

    ZAVENTEM, Belgium – U.S. Army military police Soldiers helped their Belgian counterparts qualify on U.S. Army weapons Dec. 7 at a chilly shooting range at the Belgian military’s Peutie Military Complex in Vilvoorde, Belgium.

    The U.S. MPs, from the Directorate of Emergency Services and stationed at U.S. Army Garrison Benelux – Brussels, led the training for the Belgian MPs, who learned briefly what it took to qualify on the M4 carbine and the M17 service pistol.

    The Belgian MPs, with the guidance of U.S. MPs, shot their targets from various distances and afterwards the two groups examined the paper targets. Between firings, the two groups drank coffee and talked about the weapons systems and the qualifications.

    Sgt. 1st Class Jerri Lynn Daniels, U.S. Army Garrison Benelux – Brussels provost sergeant and Directorate of Emergency Services noncommissioned officer in charge, said her group was enthusiastic to conduct the training once they learned their counterparts could indeed be badged in the American qualification.

    “We’re keeping their targets, and by Friday we’re going to let them know what they scored and they can actually wear our marksmanship badges,” said Daniels. “So we’re going to be awarding them our marksmanship badges if they score expert, sharpshooter or marksman.”

    She added that the Belgian service members were already exceptional marksmen, and she did not believe any would fail to qualify on the Law Enforcement Weapons Training and Qualification, or LEWTAQ.

    “They picked it up very quickly,” she said.

    Belgian armed forces Sgt. Maj. Wim Thonissen, the deputy of operations for the military police group, noted the similarities in the training.

    “The safety rules are the same,” he said. “The techniques are the same. There’s some little difference between the teaching methods.”

    Belgian armed forces 1st Sgt. Kris Weemaes, instructor with the Belgian military police group training unit, took the training. He also noted the similarities and enjoyed discovering the differences.

    “It’s a really good lesson for us is how to work with other weapons,” he said. “It’s exciting to see how other people do, how other countries treat their weapons. And amazingly, at all we’re very similar … at techniques, applying them, working with weapons. It’s very similar.

    “The triggers are more sensitive than ours, so we have to get used to that,” continued Weemaes. “So you have to adapt yourself and the way you shoot with the gun. But as far as we’ve seen the results haven’t been too bad. Just keep the fingers crossed.”

    Adjutant Peter Van Den Block, a reservist with the Belgian armed forces who also works with the U.S. Department of State, believed cross-training on NATO partner weapons to be a tactical asset.

    “If you know how it operates, you can take it over if need be in a worst case scenario,” said Van Den Block.

    “When we were deployed in Afghanistan, we often left the base with two, three or four different countries,” Weemaes elaborated on Van Den Block’s point. “If you get to know their weapon, in case something happens with yours, you get another weapon, you know how to work with it, you know how to use it, and it benefits everybody.”

    Van Den Block added that many of the same principles carry over from one weapons system to another.

    “It’s a different weapon, but the way you handle a firearm will always stay the same,” he said.

    Beside the cross-training, the LEWTAQ is a continuation of a relation between USAG Benelux and the local Belgian armed forces. The two militaries collaborated during an international hunt for a potentially dangerous fugitive in May. They also worked together during the Chièvres Air Fest in September.

    “It’s important that we’re used to working with each other,” said Thonissen. “We are stationed like 20 kilometers apart, and we work with them. They work with us. So it’s like cohesion, I think. So we train on their weapons, and we’ll give them the opportunity, maybe next year, to train on our weapons.”

    In June of this year, the U.S. Soldiers visited the same indoor range to train on Belgian firearms. The Belgian armed forces expect soon to use the FN Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle, or FN SCAR, which would mean another possible training event for U.S. Soldiers.

    Beyond this, Thonissen said the event was enjoyable in and of itself.

    “Every day not in the office is a fun day for me,” Thonissen added. “It’s cold inside, but it’s better than staying in the office.”



    Date Taken: 12.10.2021
    Date Posted: 12.10.2021 03:49
    Story ID: 410872
    Location: ZAVENTEM, VBR, BE 

    Web Views: 236
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