US Airmen aim for gold, build partnership

ZWEIBRUCKEN, Germany -- Working side by side with allied forces in deployed locations is as important as ever. In order to build these partnerships at home station more than 20 members of the 86th Security Forces Squadron traveled to Zweibrucken, Germany, to participate in the Bundeswehr (German army) marksmanship badge challenge Nov. 18.

The event was hosted by the German army to help promote camaraderie between the two forces.

"Since both forces work so closely together [while deployed], why not in times of peace as well?" asked German army Capt. Thomas Gohritz, company commander of Airborne Infantry Regiment 26, 4th Company. "We always train as we fight. If we train together during these times, it'll be a lot easier when we're deployed."

During the qualifications, Airmen were required to shoot targets with German weapons including the P8 pistol, G36 assault rifle and MG3 machine gun. Based on their results from each weapon, they were able to earn a gold, silver or bronze marksman badge.

"It was a good getting a chance to fire the German weapons," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Michael Koder, 86th SFS patrolman. "Some people never have the opportunity to do that.

"Being out here also helped build rapport between the German army and U.S. Air Force," he added. "I think it's going to strengthen the bond between the two nations."

For many of the Airmen, shooting at the Zweibrucken range was their first experience meeting and talking with German soldiers.

"I've seen them walk around Ramstein, but this is my first time interacting with them," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brooke Coleman, 86th SFS standardization and evaluation evaluator. "It has been a great experience with the Germans. They're very helpful, knowledgeable and have the utmost professionalism out on the range. I highly encourage any Airmen if they have the opportunity to come out here to take it."

The possibility of more Airmen participating in the marksmanship challenge isn't a long shot as leaders from both armed forces have expressed their interest in continuing to build this partnership.

"We have a really big event today with so many U.S. Airmen, and I'm very happy to have them here," said Gohritz. "For my soldiers, it's a great pleasure to have this training with them. They really enjoy that because it's something different from their normal duty, and I would really like to keep this going."