By Sgt. Tanjie PattersonJuly 21, 2013
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (July 21, 2013) -- Fourteen Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Sustainment Brigade soldiers earned the German Armed Forces Badge of Marksmanship, also known as the Schützenschnur, July 11, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
The 'Providers' received the rare opportunity to fire foreign weapons while strengthening partnerships with their German army counterparts assigned to the 1st NATO Signal Battalion.
"Working with the German army was a great experience, and it was a good opportunity to see how other nations train," said Staff Sgt. Shane Medders, the force protection noncommissioned officer in charge with HHC, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, and Sylvester, Ga., native. "It was professional, safe and motivating."
The Schützenschnur is decoration earned for weapons proficiency and is authorized for enlisted wear on their U.S. Army Service Uniform. To earn the award, the 'Providers' had to successfully shoot the Heckler & Koch G36 service rifle as well as the H&K P8 pistol.
Since this was the first time that these American Troops fired German weapons, the Providers first teamed up with the Germans who helped teach weapon familiarization.
"The Germans were subject matter experts on the weapons," said Capt. Jeffrey Shields, the force protection and antiterrorism officer in charge with HHC, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, and native of Fairfax, Va.
"They coached us, made us feel really comfortable with the weapons and were easy to work with," Shields explained.
After the Soldiers were oriented to the weapons, they then fired into the qualification-taking aim at stationary silhouette targets from the prone, kneeling and standing positions.
"Their weapons are different than ours," said 1st Lt. Matthew Riggs, the postal officer in charge with HHC, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, and Oakdale, Minn., native. "When you pull the trigger, it has more of a soft kick and it's a little easier to maintain your shot group."
Each Provider received the gold badge after hitting all 21 targets.
Riggs said he enjoyed firing a foreign military's weapon.
Shields said he too appreciates the "once-in-a-career opportunity." Although he cannot wear the badge as a commissioned officer, he said the day was time well spent with NATO allies while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.