Can a soldier take/use an enemy’s weapon?

Can a soldier take/use an enemy’s weapon? 1
U.S. troops are shown here in Panama in December 1989 during Operation Just Cause, the mission to topple Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega. (Photo: U.S. Army)

During the Kosovo War, I took an AK-47 Kalashnikov from a dead enemy soldier. We had booby-trapped a little shop in our village and when a group of enemy soldiers entered the building, they activated our device.

We went to check out the place two days after the explosion and aside from ‘my’ Kalashnikov, we found another AK-47, a backpack, a watch, and some other military gear.

My standard rifle was an Austrian ‘Sturmgewehr 58’ which was quite big and heavy as it used the more powerful 7.62 X 51 mm NATO cartridge. Therefore, my ‘new’, smaller rifle made for an excellent secondary weapon. Luckily, our unit also used a lot of AK’s and therefore we had plenty of ammunition for it.

Can a soldier take/use an enemy’s weapon? 2
Roland Baretzko and his ‘Sturmgewehr 58′ during military training (Photo: Private)

When I fought in open terrain or in a defense position, I took the ‘Sturmgewehr’ with me as it was the more accurate weapon, but during night fighting, ambushes or in the forest, the AK proved to be superior. The ‘Sturmgewehr 58’ is literally an FN FAL rifle. It is one of the most widely used rifles in history, having been used by more than 90 countries. Because of its prevalence and widespread usage among the militaries of many NATO and first world countries during the Cold War, it was given the title “The right arm of the Free World”.

I was fighting in a guerrilla army and therefore didn’t even have to ask anyone whether I was ‘allowed’ to use my new weapon or not. In a more conventional army, however, you might get into trouble running around with an enemy’s weapon.

After a few months in combat, many special operations forces and other fighting units with combat experience make their own rules regarding the use of enemy equipment.

One of those rules is that as long as it doesn’t have a negative effect on your or your unit’s combat performance, you are free to do whatever you want.

Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of author and do not necessarily reflect those of Spec Ops Magazine.

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