KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - Units from 361st Civil Affairs Brigade held a weapons qualification battle assembly at Baumholder Training Area, April 12 to 15.

The weapons qualification, involving 446th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control) and the brigade's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, mirrored the Army Reserve's Operation Cold Steel where Soldiers are trained and qualified on various crew-serve weapon systems on ground and mounted military vehicles through multiple rotations across the continental United States.

Crew-serve weapons such as the M2, heavy machine gun, and M249B, light machine gun, are qualified in teams of two people. One is identified as the operator of the weapon and the other acts as an assistant by carrying additional ammunition while also acting as a spotter. Both team members must qualify in both roles and tested together regularly to maintain proficiency.

"We want to bring soldiers back to the basics through training in order to be an expeditionary force," said 1st Sgt.Carlos Vicil, HHC, 361st CA BDE. "We need to be ready to deploy anywhere, anytime."

Vicil stressed the importance of being efficient of utilizing time during BA as it occurs one weekend a month. While waiting for their turn for weapons familiarization and qualification Soldiers trained on basic skills such as land navigation and use of communications equipment.

Capt. Rocky Fortner, HHC commander, 361st CA BDE, said the success of this four-day BA was due to the months of planning and coordination of his empowered junior leaders and Army Guard Reserve staff who work full time.

"To have a successful BA, all Soldiers on all levels have to be firing on all cylinders with implied tasks known and understood by all. Our main events require a lot of time outside of BA from multiple members of our ranks."

Fortner, who works in cybersecurity in his civilian job, believes part-time Soldiers (troop program unit) cannot be fully proficient in their duties just by conducting BA once a month with the unit and during annual training for 14 days in the summer.

"TPU Soldiers must embed their core tasks as a Soldier into their daily lives and in their civilian career. This is one challenge Army Reservists have that the active duty Soldiers do not face."

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361st CA BDE, located in Kaiserslautern, Germany, is the U.S. Army Reserve's only forward deployed civil affairs unit in Europe providing civil affairs support to U.S. Army Europe.