5/9/2012 By Cpl. Timothy Lenzo , 1st Marine Division

FORWARD OPERATING BASE GERONIMO, Afghanistan — FORWARD OPERATING BASE GERONIMO, Afghanistan - Afghan soldiers will add a new weapon to their arsenal, when recent graduates from a marksmanship course return to their bases. The newly trained soldiers will carry a M24 sniper rifle, a weapon recently acquired by the local kandak.

The week-long marksmanship course, taught by a Marine scout sniper team, covered maintenance of the M24 sniper rifle, firing the rifle at a distance of 450 meters, memory and observation tests. The tests require soldiers to scan a field and identify as many hidden military objects as possible, in a 30-minute time limit.

“I had never used this rifle before and was excited to fire the [weapon] at the longer distances,” said Afghan National Army Gunnery Sgt. Mohammad Hasan, an academy instructor with 1st Kandak, 1st Brigade, 215th Corps.

Though, the firing range might be the most exciting part for many of the soldiers, the memory and observation tests are just as important.

“As [overwatch] a lot of the job is to be observant,” said Lance Cpl. Sam Chrupcala, a squad automatic weapon gunner with the scout sniper team instructing the course. “You have to be able to see a lot of the things that other people wouldn’t.”

Chrupcala, currently serving with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, is part of a seven-man team training the ANA soldiers. The kandak acquired the rifles but lacked the proper training to use them.

Hasan said the kandak soldiers haven’t been previously trained on this weapon and needed the Marines to instruct them.

Hasan joined 15 Afghan soldiers for the course.

“The [Marksmanship] course is going very well,” said Hasan through an interpreter. “We are going to have great success from this course.”

Chrupcala, a native of Barrington, R.I., said it’s always difficult to learn a new rifle system, but the Afghans have been working hard.

“They’ve been good at picking up the new stuff,” Chrupcala said. “They’ve been really good at listening and trying new things.”

Read more here: http://www.marines.mil/unit/1stmardi...x#.T6u3PFIdDSc