Virginia Soldiers take part in Qatari Marksmanship Competition

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CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar — Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team serving on federal active duty in Qatar took top honors in several categories in the Qatari Marksmanship Competition at Al Udeid Air Base in early January 2017.

“It was a great time to interact with the Qataris and build relationships with fellow soldiers who share a focus on training and weapons proficiency,” said Capt. Matthew W. Morris, battalion civil affairs officer.

In conjunction with their ASG-QA counterparts, 1st Battalion Soldiers formed seven teams to compete in plate drop, rapid fire and center fire categories on M4 rifle and M9 pistol. The Qatari teams included representatives from their special forces and air force, as well as signal and support units.

Pistol targets were at 25 meters, rifle targets were at 200 meters, and the plate drop competition required a 100 meter run before engaging 10 targets at 200 meters, with the best time taking first place. The American teams took three third place medals in rifle and pistol rapid fire and pistol center fire and took first place in M4 plate drop.

“Our Soldiers competed head-to-head with world class marksmen and simply did an outstanding job,” said Lt. Col. Christopher J. Samulski, commander of 1st Battalion. “This further reflects the benefits of the emphasis our NCOs have placed on shooting and marksmanship skills during this deployment. In addition to the training value we received from this competition, we had the added benefit of building solid relationships with our Qatari partners.”

Approximately 450 Soldiers from 1st Battalion, also known as the Red Dragons, began serving on federal active duty May 13, 2016, and the mobilization is expected to be for about 12 months. They replaced the Virginia National Guard’s Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, also known as Task Force Normandy, to conduct security operations in Qatar.

Article written by Capt. Colin J. Cutler.