RUKLA, Lithuania -- At the sound of the shot timer, reflexes take over as the shooter hones in on one of the three targets before him. Using quick, calculated movements, he begins driving two rounds into each target. At the short distance of only 10 meters, fundamentals become key to completing each transition with speed and accuracy.
U.S. Army Paratroopers assigned to Able Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, conducted Close Quarter Marksmanship training alongside Lithuanian soldiers assigned to the Iron Wolf Mechanized Infantry Brigade in Rukla, Lithuania, Jan. 24, 2017.
The Close Quarter Marksmanship training served as one of the final skills the Paratroopers refined during a two-week marksmanship density with Lithuanian allies.
"The big thing we started with during week one was purely the foundation, being able to lay in the prone position while keeping the barrel straight at the target, being able to pull the trigger without disturbing the sights and understanding what the bullet is doing during its flight toward the target," said Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Smith, brigade marksmanship instructor, 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt.
After establishing the fundamentals, the soldiers began applying those skills at close range while integrating speed, direction, and movement.
"This course is an abbreviated version of the Marksmanship Master Trainer course which is based in Fort Benning [Ga.] and we will be using the same evaluation drills that they use," Smith said. "The course will include a CQM qualification, magazine changes and immediate action, a standard ready-up drill, then a target in-depth and target in-width evaluation as well."
The progression from basic rifle marksmanship to fast-paced drills instills flexibility and weapon control. The course is designed to keep the soldiers on their toes and thinking outside the box, Smith said.
Additionally, the course allowed Able Company Paratroopers to work more closely with their Lithuanian counterparts.
"When we've worked with them in the past during OAR [Operation Atlantic Resolve], it's always been a mission like a live-fire or STX [situational training exercise] lanes so we don't get to work one-on-one with them," said Sgt. Hunter McTarsney, team leader, Able Co., 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt. "With the small class size, we've been able to work together on a more personal level and get to talk to them a little bit more. I think it's really good to see how they shoot and operate."
Training closely with NATO allies is beneficial all around, Smith said. It closes the gap between cultures and streamlines the combined tactical capabilities of the U.S. Paratroopers and Lithuanian soldiers.
Atlantic Resolve is a U.S. led effort in Eastern Europe that demonstrates U.S. commitment to the collective security of NATO and dedication to enduring peace and stability in the region. The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, is the Army Contingency Response Force in Europe, and is capable of projecting forces to conduct a full range of military operations across the United States European, Central and Africa Command areas of responsibility within 18 hours.
U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned in its 51 country area of responsibility to advance American strategic interests in Europe and Eurasia. The relationships we build during more than 1,000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships and enhance global security.