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NEWS | May 15, 2017

Romanians, Americans Hold Joint Range

By Capt. Colin Cutler 926th Engineer Brigade

All were firing the same M-4 carbines. All were zeroing and qualifying to the same standards, with 40 rounds from the prone and kneeling positions.

But Romanian and American uniforms and languages mixed on the rifle range at Joint National Training Center, Cincu, Romania, as the allied soldiers performed one of their tasks for Resolute Castle 2017.

Soldiers of the Romanian 136th Engineer Battalion, 10th Engineer Brigade and the 926th Engineer Battalion, 926th Engineer Brigade, United States Army Reserve, have been working together on the construction sites and in the Joint Operation Center for the past couple weeks.

For many of the American Soldiers, though, it was their first time engaging targets alongside their allies. 1st Lt. Pieklo, officer in charge of the range for the Forward Support Company, 122nd Engineer Battalion, said, “It was enjoyable, and they are easy to work with.” He emphasized that they worked together from the planning stages, as he and 1st Lt. Marcu shared duties in drawing up the concept.

For many of the Romanian soldiers, all from the city of Alba Iulia, this was their first time qualifying with the weapon, a big change from their standard AK-47. Cpl. Maria Nistor of Alba Iulia, a mechanic for 136th Engineer Battalion, was pleased with the new experience and said, “It is very easy to use and shoot a precise weapon.”

Warrant Officer 2nd Class Silviu Droaşca thought the range was an opportunity for both Romanians and Americans: “It is a great opportunity to learn about one another, us about you, and you about us.”

Droaşca, who took 4 years of beginning English and learned from movies, exercised his English with the American soldiers and compared the two weapons. “The M-4’s precision is much better, but it jams more. The AK-47, you can beat it, and it still works,” he grinned.

2nd Lt. Laviniu Venter, a platoon commander who graduated from the Land Forces Academy in Sibiu, Romania, after attending the military high school in Alba Iulia, has worked before with American Soldiers.

“Ten Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets came to the Land Forces Academy my first year and spent a month in Sibiu.” Now, his platoon builds an Ammunition Loading Dock with Army Soldiers and an Operations and Storage Building with Navy Seabees. “It was my first time holding in my hand a weapon from the United States. Adjusting the weapon to zero is very efficient, and I appreciate your weapon.” He expressed interest in future exercises with American Soldiers where “we have our weapons for you to shoot and your weapons for us to shoot.”

As the Romania-focused arm of Operation Atlantic Resolve, a NATO initiative to increase shared understanding, unity and resolve between the Soldiers of its member nations, Resolute Castle 17 primarily focuses on engineer skillsets. Engineers from the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion, the South Carolina Army National Guard, and the 926th Engineer Brigade are working side-by-side on training infrastructure at Cincu’s Joint National Training Center.

For these soldiers, their relationships began on the worksite, but were strengthened with mutual trust and understanding on the range and in their more casual conversations as they waited their turns to fire.

“Every nation has its story, and it is good to share that,” said Venter.