MCCRADY TRAINING CENTER, S.C. – The South Carolina National Guard partnered with the German Armed Forces Command U.S. and Canada (GEFORCOM US/CA) to conduct the South Carolina National Guard Warfighter Sustainment Training Exercise in March, 2015.
The exercise began as the state marksmanship match conducted annually to award the Governor’s 20 tab to Soldiers and Airmen in the South Carolina National Guard. It turned into a joint training exercise that allowed U.S. and German military to exchange training and weapons capabilities.
“There is always something new to learn and some skill to make better by being exposed to a different way of doing things,” said Master Sgt. Dominic Mueller, the maintenance chief for the German detachment. “Overall, it makes our Soldiers better thinkers, problem solvers and communicators.”
1st Lt. Matthew Hannon, 2nd Battalion, 263rd Air Defense Artillery, emphasized the importance of training with our allied partners.
“As we continue to evolve into a joint warfighting posture around the globe, it is important to coordinate and include our foreign partners in events other than during wartime engagements,” said Hannon.
Over the three day match, the S.C. Guardsmen trained the detachment of 15 German Soldiers on the use and capabilities of the M16 rifle, M9 pistol, and the M110 sniper rifle. In exchange, the German Soldiers trained the U.S. service members on the Rheinmetall MG 3 General Purpose Machine Gun and the Heckler & Koch G36 Assault Rifle.
After receiving training, all 15 German Soldiers passed a weapon qualification on the M16 and M9 systems. Additionally, the German detachment offered the opportunity for U.S. service members to earn the German Armed Forces Badge of Marksmanship, or the Schützenschnur. There were 10 gold and 12 silver Schützenschnur badges awarded.
Sgt. Joseph Berendzen, 43rd Civil Support Team, won the Top Gun award of the South Carolina National Guard Warfighter Sustainment Training Exercise. He also earned the gold Schützenschnur badge.
Leadership from both organizations hopes that this will be the beginning of a partnership that will continue into the future.
Sgt. Major Sven Theede, the operations sergeant major for the German detachment, believes the event was a great start toward producing an annual tradition of marksmanship training and competition between U.S. and German forces. “I like the potential of what this can turn into and what both sides may gain from the experience,” he said.
Command Sgt. Major Robert H. Brickley, the S.C. state command sergeant major, echoes Theede’s sentiment. “It is my hope that this is just the first event in developing a long relationship between South Carolina and the German Armed Forces Command US/CA,” he said.
Hannon sums up the exercise by pointing out that the shared training value is beneficial for both military forces. “Most of all, we are training and improving basic Soldier skills: shoot, move, and communicate,” he said. “It is the life blood of ground forces around the world.”