CAMP ALAMO, AFGHANISTAN
CAMP ALAMO, Afghanistan – Although the main mission of German Soldiers stationed at Camp Warehouse in Kabul, Afghanistan, is to mentor the Afghan National Army in logistic operations, one thing they love to do is volunteer their time to help American and coalition forces qualify with German weapons in a qualification process known as the German Schutzenschnur.
“Friday’s are normally our day off, but my Soldiers volunteer because we love to help them learn to use our weapons,” said Maj. Volker Messerer, range officer in charge, German Armed Forces Technical Advisory Group. “If we didn’t love to do it, we wouldn’t give up our free time to help.”
Eleven Soldiers from the 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, South Dakota Army National Guard, qualified in the Schutzenschnur July 30 at a range near Camp Alamo.
The German Soldiers organize this range once to twice a month in hopes of educating other allies on their weapons and building bonds with coalition forces.
The 196th members fired the German G36 service rifle and P8 pistol in a qualification process much different than the M4 carbine rifle and M9 pistol – weapons U.S. Army Soldiers normally qualify with.
“This was my first time firing a pistol since I was young,” said Pfc. Alex Page, 196th Soldier of Brookings, S.D. “I thought it was a little bit harder, but it’s really cool to come out and shoot these weapons.”
When firing the G36, each Soldier shot five familiarization rounds before qualifying from a 40-meter line shooting five rounds at five targets – one round in each, in eight seconds. The service members then repeated the process in six and four second firing tables. After finishing at the 40-meter line, Soldiers moved to the 15-meter line and fired again with the same time increments.
The shooters then moved on to fire five familiarization rounds before qualifying with the P8 – shooting from 10 and five meters, also firing five rounds at five targets with the same time increments as the G36.
“Shooting other countries weapons was a good experience and talking with the Germans was fun,” said Page, information management specialist for the Department of Emergency Services. “The Germans were knowledgeable about the weapons and explained how to use them really well.”
The targets were also much different than what the Soldiers are used to. During an American qualification, Soldiers shoot at silhouette targets, while the German qualification uses one paper target with three sections. When Soldiers hit a certain section, they score five, eight or ten points.
After each event, the points are totaled. Soldiers qualify in each weapon for a chance at a German Armed Forces Badge for Weapons Proficiency (Schutzenschnur) in bronze (150-199 points), silver (200-249) and gold (250-300), but the lowest badge awarded determines the overall award.
All 11 Soldiers of the 196th qualified with either a bronze, silver or gold rating and earned the German Schutzenschnur.
Both the U.S. and German Soldiers took a day out of their busy schedules to do something they enjoy. Taking a break from the daily battle rhythm to go out and shoot is a moral booster and gives the Soldiers an opportunity to build bonds with ally forces.
“It brings the camaraderie together between U.S. and Germans Soldiers,” said Page. “It helps us to build bonds and relationships with our other allies.”
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