WIESBADEN, Germany - Soldiers representing U.S. Army Europe, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden and the 529th Military Police Company proved their mettle during a unique training opportunity with their German counterparts.

Ten Wiesbaden military community Soldiers were invited to join Bundeswehr troops at the Daaden Training Range April 21-26 for the Landeskommando Hessen's annual training week. By the end of the week all had earned the gold or silver levels of the German Armed Forces Badge for Weapons Proficiency (Schützenschnur).

"It was an exceptional experience," said USAG Wiesbaden's Sgt. Edward Smigelski, who recently also competed at the U.S. Army Europe's Best Warrior competition in Baumholder. "We had to do all of the training that the Bundeswehr Soldiers do."

"It was nice being able to meet the other people from the different units," he added. "That's what made it fun - we challenged each other to be the best unit out there."

Smigelski said support from the Bundeswehr was outstanding.

"The guys that were out there were great. They made sure we were taken care of," he said.

Training included everything from first aid to night shooting, marching to qualifying with a variety of German weapons.

"What was especially attractive for our Soldiers was that they could compete for the Schützenschnur," said Ulises Soto, USAG Wiesbaden government relations officer, explaining that the American Soldiers not only had the chance to qualify with the German G-36 Assault Rifle, but also had the opportunity to train with the German MG-3 machine gun, P-8 pistol, hand grenades and anti-tank weapons.

"It's always important to train together," said Soto, "because we never know when we'll be on the battlefield together."

"These types of training events prepare us for future contingencies," he added, saying that international missions to Afghanistan and other hotspots have demonstrated how vitally important it is for military allies to continue to train with one another both at home and during deployment.

"In our mutual effort to deepen the relationship and increase cooperation between the Landeskommando Hessen and the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden we're planning further combined activities - from sporting outings to military training events," said Soto, underscoring the continuing close friendship and partnership between the U.S. and its German ally.