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HEIDELBERG, Germany — Two V Corps soldiers have been handed punishments for smuggling an assault rifle out of Iraq.

“The two soldiers each got field grade Article 15s for smuggling an AK-47,” said V Corps spokeswoman Hilde Patton.

An Article 15 is one of the Army’s ways of punishing soldiers without formal charges or a court-martial and is typically reserved for minor offenses.

In this case, one soldier is a sergeant first class, the other a sergeant.

Both soldiers belonged to the corps’ headquarters company.

The punishments, said Patton, included reduction to E-4 for the sergeant as well as a fine. The sergeant first class was handed extra duty and a fine. E-7s and above cannot be stripped of rank in anything but a court-martial.

Patton was unable to determine the amount of the fines.

Regulations bar soldiers from bringing most “war trophies” home from combat zones. While enemy uniforms and even knives are permitted, all firearms and explosives are strictly forbidden. V Corps officials said that the AK-47 was not operational and did not have a bolt in it.

In fact, if prosecuted, the two soldiers would have faced a maximum punishment of five years in prison, reduction to E-1 and a dishonorable discharge.

Instead, the soldiers’ commander, Capt. Douglas Zahn, consulting with his superiors and Army legal experts, opted for much lighter punishment.

“The decision was based on what could be prosecuted in a courtroom,” said Patton.

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