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Servicemembers swap weapons for a day

Mar 13, 2011

By Spc. Edward Garibay, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

TARIN KOT, Afghanistan -- AK-47 rifles, Squad Automatic Weapons, Steyr AUG models, M-4 carbines and even the Singaporean SAR 21s were up for test fire during a weapons familiarization range Mar. 11, at Multi-National Base Tarin Kot, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan.

Combined Team Uruzgan sent an open invitation to all nations of Multi-National Base Tarin Kot to receive instruction on and shoot different small arms weapons from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States.

The range featured all of the respective militaries' major hand guns, assault rifles and light machine guns, said Sgt. 1st Class David Bergman, provost marshal for Combined Team Uruzgan.

Since most operations in Uruzgan province are an international effort, the range was ultimately an exercise in awareness,
Bergman said.

"The end goal is to familiarize everyone here today with different types of weapon systems," said New Zealand Army Warrant Officer Class 1 Hemi Brown, Afghan National Security Force training officer for Combined Team Uruzgan. "If your weapon stops and another coalition force weapon becomes available, you should be able to pick it up and fire it."

Stations were set up with a different weapon in each firing lane. An expert would give a quick overview and walk firers through basic operations. After that, the participants were issued 10, 30-round magazines to engage targets 100 meters away utilizing single shot, three-round burst or fully automatic firing.

"I heard there was going to be an AK-47, and I immediately volunteered," said Pfc. Travis Cawthorn, a combat engineer for Company B, 40th Engineer Battalion, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. "It's a different experience. You get to see all the different advantages and disadvantages of all of the operating systems."

Brown said it's natural for people to be curious about weapons, especially military servicemembers.

"I think today's practice proves that there is a willingness for coalition forces to learn about other national weapons," said Brown. "It was truly a day enjoyed by all."

In the future, Combined Team Uruzgan plans to continue foreign weapons training and instruct heavy weapons familiarization.

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