CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo – After hosting the German Armed Forces Badge for Weapons Proficiency qualifications last month, the German contingent, accompanied by members of the Polish contingent, qualified with U.S. Army weapons on Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, April 28, 2022.
Regional Command-East Soldiers hosted the event where multinational partners fired and qualified with the Colt M4 Carbine service rifle and the Sig Sauer M17 service pistol. Before the event’s conclusion, participants also shot the M249 squad automatic weapon for familiarization.
“We invited some of our German partners from the German contingent as well as some of the Polish partners who work with us every day to come participate in a U.S. qualification on our rifles and pistols,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Latane Gilliam, the brigade operations sergeant major assigned to Kosovo Force (KFOR) RC-East. “It is a great opportunity for them to step away from their normal routine and earn a U.S. qualification badge for doing something they enjoy.”
The day before going to the range, participants received a preliminary marksmanship instruction class to familiarize them with the basics of each weapon. They also practiced on simulated weapons at an engagement skills trainer, or EST range to further their comfortability before firing the weapons on the live range. The EST is designed to replicate the live firing of individual and crew-served weapons.
The Soldiers could qualify at three levels; marksman, sharpshooter and expert. Marksman being the lowest and expert being the highest. Qualification levels are the same for both weapons, but both require a different number of targets hit. When firing the rifle, the Soldiers had to shoot in the prone, standing and kneeling positions. For the pistol portion, it’s a bit different, they shot standing, kneeling and walking.
The badge awarded is a silver crosshair for marksmen, while the sharpshooter badge has a bullseye in the crosshairs. For the Soldiers who qualified as experts, the badge is a crosshair with bullseyes surrounded by a wreath.
“They know weapons safety and weapons handling, so getting them used to our platform was pretty simple,” U.S. Army Sgt. Jessey Mcdaniel, an infantryman assigned to RC-East, said. “They all shot well and it has been as fun as when we shot with them.”
The event ended with the partner-nation Soldiers receiving their U.S. Army shooting badges and the U.S. Soldiers who qualified the month prior, receiving their German badges.
Lt. Col Eddie Simpson, the deputy commanding officer for RC-East, awarded the badges to the German and Polish Soldiers. German Col. Stefan Bruendermann, the commanding officer for the KFOR German contingent, awarded the German badges. After the award ceremony, they shared laughs and food over a barbeque.
“It has been an awesome experience working with our partners on the range as well as on a regular basis here in Kosovo,” Gilliam said.
The Soldiers of RC-East are currently in Kosovo to support a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all communities in Kosovo.