South Carolina conducts international marksmanship training event

Sgt. Joseph Berendzen, 43rd Civil Support Team, watches as Sgt. Major Sven Theede, Operations Sgt. Major for the German Armed Forces Command U.S. and Canada, demonstrates the hasty firing position for the Rheinmetall MG3 machine gun during the South Carolina National Guard Warfighter Sustainment Training Exercise in March, 2015.
Sgt. Joseph Berendzen, 43rd Civil Support Team, watches as Sgt. Major Sven Theede, Operations Sgt. Major for the German Armed Forces Command U.S. and Canada, demonstrates the hasty firing position for the Rheinmetall MG3 machine gun during the South Carolina National Guard Warfighter Sustainment Training Exercise in March, 2015.

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 poses for a quick photo with his counterparts from the German Armed Forces Command U.S. and Canada during the South Carolina National Guard Warfighter Sustainment Excercise in March 2015.
1st Lt. Matthew Hannon poses for a quick photo with his counterparts from the German Armed Forces Command U.S. and Canada during the South Carolina National Guard Warfighter Sustainment Excercise in March 2015.

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.

904After 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.”

Members of the South Carolina National Guard and the German Armed Forces Command U.S. and Canada pose for a photo after the completion of the South Carolina National Guard Warfighter Sustainment Training Exercise in March, 2015. The event was a joint marksmanship training exercise designed to exchange training and weapons capabilities between the allied forces.
Members of the South Carolina National Guard and the German Armed Forces Command U.S. and Canada pose for a photo after the completion of the South Carolina National Guard Warfighter Sustainment Training Exercise in March, 2015. The event was a joint marksmanship training exercise designed to exchange training and weapons capabilities between the allied forces.

2015 Winston P. Wilson

Story and Photos by Staff Sgt. Kelvin M. Green, 119th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

 

CAMP JOSEPH T. ROBINSON, Ark.– The National Guard Marksmanship Training Center hosted the 44th annual Winston P. Wilson rifle and pistol championship matches last week at Camp Joseph T. Robinson, North Little Rock, Arkansas.

DSC_0559 The Wilson Championship matches are a training exercise consisting of multiple events designed to test and improve the capabilities of individuals and teams participating from National Guard units from around the United States.

Many competing in this year’s event are returning participants who often begin training as soon as they return home from the previous Wilson matches. Each team receives a list of events expected to be a part of the overall competition approximately three to four months in advance, giving them enough time to prepare.

This year nearly 250 individuals participated in the annual event that is considered the premier military competition in the United States. The event not only tests the skills of those participating, but also sharpens their skillset by providing additional information about weaponry and marksmanship that they may not have been aware of before.

Over a five day period, the participants are tested on their ability to not only perform as marksmen but as a team. They are required to fire rifles, pistols and shotguns during the competition, which can at times be just as physically tiring.

“Yeah it’s a lot but you do it because of the love for it,” said Sgt. 1st. Class Jacob Iwanski of the Wisconsin team. “When you’re out there in the moment you’re not thinking about it, so it’s nothing.”

DSC_0688 Not only are they competing in the competition, but   most have traveled hundreds of miles away from  home to be a part of the annual event.

“It sucks being away from family but they  understand because of how much I want to be a part of it,” said Iwanski. “I’ve shot at regionals before, but this is my third year competing at Wilson and there’s nothing like it.”

Despite various challenges that many competitors face, they still do not allow it to deter them from attending. Competing amongst some of the best shooters in the country and a passion for shooting is what makes them want to come back according to Sgt. 1st Class Justin Zabinski of the Wisconsin team.

The motivation to compete comes from the love of shooting in general and the fact that we’re learning more about marksmanship, said Zabinski. “We love shooting entirely too much to not come back to next years Wilson, so we’ll definitely be back.”