By Sgt. Angie Johnston, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 25th Infantry DivisionMay 3, 2009
FORWARD OPERATING BASE BERNSTEIN, TUZ, Iraq - Everyone was shooting, but
no one was hurt when the Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police, the Sons of Iraq and Coalition forces
fired AK-47s, M4 carbines, and Glock 9mm pistols together in a friendly shooting
tournament at Forward Operating Base Bernstein, Iraq, April 19.
The event, hosted by Company A, Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Infantry Brigade
Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, helped the four groups strengthen relationships.
"This is a lot of fun," said Pfc. Devin Nehring, a Co. A. "Shooting the AK-47 was
really exciting, and they (the IA) have one guy out there who's cash money - he's hitting
"Some people are natural marksmen," said Khalid Shwan Ibrahim, a Sons of Iraq
member who competed against some of the best the Salah ad-Din province has to offer.
Halfway through the day, Soldiers from Co. A fired up a grill and started cooking
traditional American barbeque fare for all the competitors.
"This food is very good," said Mowlud Shakour, one of the Sons of Iraq's top
competitors. "The men on the grill are talented, because they can cook and be Soldiers
at the same time," he quipped.
The competition was a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs, and each group took
the lead at least once during the full-day event. After each iteration, scores were posted
as eager competitors looked on. There were pats on the back and pep talks between
each episode as the marksmen prepared to shoot again.
Spc. Mostafa El Saka, a linguist, was impressed by the accuracy of the Iraqi
Security Forces. "If you look at the results, the Sons of Iraq are doing the best right
now. For people who don't get many opportunities to practice shooting, they're all doing
Sgt. Shaun Maynard, who was one of the scorekeepers throughout the
competition, was excited to watch new friendships blossom as the ISF members both
teased and congratulated one another.
"This is a nice little get-together," said Maynard. "We're getting to interact with
the ISF; we get to see how they are when they're having fun instead of being all
During the last event, the Suleyman Bek police department catapulted into the
lead. Although they had no experience with the Americans' M4 carbines, U.S. Soldiers
coached them all the way to first place.
Immediately after the final event, Lt. Col. Chris Stenman, who commands the
Special Troops Battalion, handed out certificates to the event's top shooters and gave a
short speech to the group.
"I'd like to invite you all to come do this again," said Stenman. "We've started
something today that should become a tradition, and I'm very impressed with both the
results and your professionalism as Iraqi Security Forces."