News: Empire Soldiers take aim on German Schützenschnur
Story by Staff Sgt. Derek M. Smith
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Service members of Joint Task Force Empire earned the Schützenschnur, the German Armed Forces Badge of Weapon Proficiency, during joint weapons ranges with German counterparts at Kandahar Air Field and Camp Mike Spann, Afghanistan, in November.
The Schützenschnur, is awarded in silver and gold based on weapons proficiency. The JTF Empire Soldiers fired the German-issued G36 service rifle, P8 pistol and MG3 machine gun. It is one of a few foreign military awards authorized for enlisted wear on the U.S. Army uniform and is a rare opportunity for many soldiers.
The occasion gave soldiers the chance to experience the differences in Coalition partner weapons systems and strengthen partnerships with NATO allies. German soldiers of the Partnering & Advisory Task Forces in Mazar-e-Sharif, took the opportunity over the month to qualify on the U.S. Army’s M4 service rifle and M9 pistol.
Early in the month, a group of soldiers travelled to Camp Spann in Regional Command (RC)-North to take part in the event, which many Reservists never experience. Later in the month, JTF Empire Soldiers took part in a similar range at KAF with their German counterparts stationed in RC-South.
“ A few of us from the 411th Engineer Brigade got the opportunity to travel north and go to the range to shoot the German service rifle, pistol, and machine gun, recounted Spc. Meredith Owen, a geospatial engineer with the 411th En. Bde., based out of New Windsor, N.Y. “The majority of us, by the end of the day, qualified for the silver and the gold German marksmanship award. I would say that is was a fun and pretty successful day.”
In addition to typical weapons qualification target shooting, the German range operators incorporated some real-world scenario training.
“We had a sort of obstacle course to complete at one station in four man teams using the German service rifle,” explained Owen. “We slowly made our way to the target and then had to quickly carry our fallen comrade to cover afterwards using smoke for concealment.”
Sgt. Stephen Poandl, technical engineer for the 411th En. Bde., pointed out there was more to the event than the mere novelty of firing new weapons and possibly adding a little flair to one’s uniform.
“It went real well today,” said Poandl. “I think this is a good sign - Soldiers qualifying on other weapons. This means they could walk up to any weapon and be able to defend themselves should the need arise.”