The sniper has special abilities, training and equipment. His job is to deliver discriminatory highly accurate rifle fire against enemy targets, which cannot be engaged successfully by the rifleman because of range, size, location, fleeting nature, or visibility. Sniping requires the development of basic infantry skills to a high degree of perfection. A sniper's training incorporates a wide variety of subjects designed to increase his value as a force multiplier and to ensure his survival on the battlefield. The art of sniping requires learning and repetitiously practicing these skills until mastered. A sniper must be highly trained in long-range rifle marksmanship and field craft skills to ensure maximum effective engagements with minimum risk.
The primary mission of a sniper in combat is to support combat operations by delivering precise long-range fire on selected targets. By this, the sniper creates casualties among enemy troops, slows enemy movement, frightens enemy soldiers, lowers morale, and adds confusion to their operations.
The secondary mission of the sniper is collecting and reporting battlefield information. a. A well-trained sniper, combined with the inherent accuracy of his rifle and ammunition, is a versatile supporting arm available to an infantry commander. The importance of the sniper cannot be measured simply by the number of casualties he inflicts upon the enemy. Realization of the sniper’s presence instills fear in enemy troop elements and influences their decisions and actions. A sniper enhances a unit’s firepower and augments the varied means for destruction and harassment of the enemy. Whether a sniper is organic or attached, he will provide that unit with extra supporting fire. The sniper’s role is unique in that it is the sole means by which a unit can engage point targets at distances beyond the effective range of an ordinary assault rifle. This role becomes more significant when the target is entrenched or positioned among civilians, or during riot control missions.
The fires of automatic weapons in such operations can result in the wounding or killing of noncombatants. Snipers are employed in all levels of conflict. This includes conventional offensive and defensive combat in which precision fire is delivered at long ranges. It also includes combat patrols, ambushes, countersniper operations, forward observation elements, military operations in urbanized terrain, and retrograde operations in which snipers are part of forces left in contact or as stay-behind forces.
PERSONNEL SELECTION CRITERIA
Candidates for sniper training require careful screening. Commanders must screen the individual’s records for potential aptitude as a sniper. The rigorous training program and the increased personal risk in combat require high motivation and the ability to learn a variety of skills. Aspiring snipers must have an excellent personal record. a. The basic guidelines used to screen sniper candidates are as follows:
(1) Marksmanship. The sniper trainee must be an expert marksman. Repeated annual qualification as expert is necessary. Successful participation in the annual competition-in-arms program and an extensive hunting background also indicate good sniper potential.
(2) Physical condition. The sniper, often employed in extended operations with little sleep, food, or water, must be in outstanding physical condition. Good health means better reflexes, better muscular control, and greater stamina. The self-confidence and control that come from athletics, especially team sports, are definite assets to a sniper trainee.
(3) Vision. Eyesight is the sniper’s prime tool. Therefore, a sniper must have 20/20 vision or vision correctable to 20/20. However, wearing glasses could become a liability if glasses are lost or damaged. Color blindness is also considered a liability to the sniper, due to his inability to detect concealed targets that blend in with the natural surroundings.
(4) Smoking. The sniper should not be a smoker or use smokeless tobacco. Smoke or an unsuppressed smoker’s cough can betray the sniper’s position. Even though a sniper may not smoke or use smokeless tobacco on a mission, his refrainment may cause nervousness and irritation, which lowers his efficiency.
(5) Mental condition. When commanders screen sniper candidates, they should look for traits that indicate the candidate has the right qualities to be a sniper. The commander must determine if the candidate will pull the trigger at the right time and place. Some traits to look for are reliability, initiative, loyalty, discipline, and emotional stability. A psychological evaluation of the candidate can aid the commander in the selection process.
(6) Intelligence. A sniper’s duties require a wide variety of skills. He must learn the following: Ballistics. Ammunition types and capabilities. Adjustment of optical devices. Radio operation and procedures. Observation and adjustment of mortar and artillery fire. Land navigation skills. Military intelligence collecting and reporting. Identification of threat uniforms and equipment. b. In sniper team operations involving prolonged independent employment, the sniper must be self-reliant, display good judgment and common sense.
This requires two other important qualifications: emotional balance and field craft.
(1) Emotional balance. The sniper must be able to calmly and deliberately kill targets that may not pose an immediate threat to him. It is much easier to kill in self-defense or in the defense of others than it is to kill without apparent provocation. The sniper must not be susceptible to emotions such as anxiety or remorse. Candidates whose motivation toward sniper training rests mainly in the desire for prestige may not be capable of the cold rationality that the sniper’s job requires.
(2) Field craft. The sniper must be familiar with and comfortable in a field environment. An extensive background in the outdoors and knowledge of natural occurrences in the outdoors will assist the sniper in many of his tasks. Individuals with such a background will often have great potential as a sniper.
SNIPER AND OBSERVER RESPONSIBILITIES
Each member of the sniper team has specific responsibilities. Only through repeated practice can the team begin to function properly. Responsibilities of team members areas follows:
a. The sniper— Builds a steady, comfortable position. Locates and identifies the designated target. Estimates the range to the target. Dials in the proper elevation and windage to engage the target. Notifies the observer of readiness to fire. Takes aim at the designated target. Controls breathing at natural respiratory pause. Executes proper trigger control. Follows through. Makes an accurate and timely shot call. Prepares to fire subsequent shots, if necessary.
b. The observer— Properly positions himself. Selects an appropriate target. Assists in range estimation. Calculates the effect of existing weather conditions on ballistics. Reports sight adjustment data to the sniper. Uses the Critiques performance.
TEAM FIRING TECHNIQUES
A sniper team must be able to move and survive in a combat environment. The sniper team’s mission is to deliver precision fire. This calls for a coordinated team effort. Together, the sniper and observer:
- Determine the effects of weather on ballistics.
- Calculate the range to the target.
- Make necessary sight changes.
- Observe bullet impact.
- Critique performance before any subsequent shots.
The primary mission of the sniper team is to eliminate selected enemy targets with long-range precision fire. How well the sniper accomplishes his mission depends on knowledge, understanding and application of various field techniques that allow him to move, hide, observe, and detect targets. This chapter discusses the field techniques and skills that the sniper must learn before employment in support of combat operations. The sniper's application of these skills will affect his survival on the battlefield.
Camouflage is one of the basic weapons of war. It can mean the difference between a successful or unsuccessful mission. To the sniper team, it can mean the difference between life and death. Camouflage measures are important since the team cannot afford to be detected at any time while moving alone, as part of another element, or while operating from a firing position. Marksmanship training teaches the sniper to hit a target, and a knowledge of camouflage teaches him how to avoid becoming a target. Paying attention to camouflage fundamentals is a mark of a well-trained sniper.
To become proficient in camouflage, the sniper team must first understand target indicators. Target indicators are anything a soldier does or fails to do that could result in detection. A sniper team must know and understand target indication not only to move undetected, but also to detect enemy movement. Target indicators are sound, movement, improper camouflage, disturbance of wildlife, and odors.
a. Sound. Most noticeable during hours of darkness. Caused by movement, equipment rattling, or talking. Small noises may be dismissed as natural, but talking will not.
b. Movement. Most noticeable during hours of daylight. The human eye is attracted to movement. Quick or jerky movement will be detected faster than slow movement.
c. Improper camouflage. Shine. Outline. Contrast with the background.
d. Disturbance of wildlife. Birds suddenly flying away. Sudden stop of animal noises. Animals being frightened.
e. Odors. Cooking. Smoking. Soap and lotions. Insect repellents.
A sniper team’s mission and method of employment differ in many ways from those of the infantry squad. One of the most noticeable differences is the movement technique used by the sniper team. Movement by teams must not be detected or even suspected by the enemy. Because of this, a sniper team must master individual sniper movement techniques.
RULES OF MOVEMENT
When moving, the sniper team should always remember the following rules
a. Always assume the area is under enemy observation.
b. Move slowly. A sniper counts his movement progress by feet and inches.
c. Do not cause overhead movement of trees, bushes, or tall grasses by rubbing against them.
d. Plan every movement and move in segments of the route at a time.
e. Stop, look, and listen often. f. Move during disturbances such as gunfire, explosions, aircraft noise, wind, or anything that will distract the enemy’s attention or conceal the team’s movement.
INDIVIDUAL MOVEMENT TECHNIQUES
The individual movement techniques used by the sniper team are designed to allow movement without being detected. These movement techniques are sniper low crawl, medium crawl, high crawl, hand-and-knees crawl, and walking.
Sniper Low Crawl. The sniper low crawl is used when concealment is extremely limited, when close to the enemy, or when occupying a firing position.
Medium Crawl. The medium crawl is used when concealment is limited and the team needs to move faster-than the sniper low crawl allows. The medium crawl is similar to the infantryman’s low crawl.
High Crawl. The high crawl is used when concealment is limited but high enough to allow the sniper to raise his body off the ground. The high crawl is similar to the infantry high crawl.
Hand-and-knees Crawl. The hand-and-knees crawl is used when some concealment is available and the sniper team needs to . move faster than the medium crawl.
Walking is used when there is good concealment, it is not likely the enemy is close, and speed is required.
SNIPER TEAM MOVEMENT AND NAVIGATION
Due to lack of personnel and firepower, the sniper team cannot afford detection by the enemy nor can it successfully fight the enemy in sustained engagements.
When possible, the sniper team should be attached to a security element (squad/platoon). The security element allows the team to reach its area of operations quicker and safer than the team operating alone. Plus, the security element provides the team a reaction force should the team be detected. Snipers use the following guidelines when attached to a security element:
(1) The security element leader is in charge of the team while it is attached to the element.
(2) The sniper team always appears as an integral part of the element.
(3) The sniper team wears the same uniform as the element members.
(4) The sniper team maintains proper intends and positions in all formations.
(5) The sniper weapon system is carried in line and close to the body, hiding its outline and barrel length.
(6) All equipment that is unique to sniper teams is concealed from view (optics, ghillie suits, and so forth).
Once in the area of operation, the sniper team separates from the security element and operates alone. Two examples of a sniper team separating from security elements are as follows:
(1) The security element provides security while the team prepares for operation.
(a) The team dons the ghillie suits and camouflages itself and its equipment (if mission requires).
(b) The team ensures all equipment is secure and caches any nonessential equipment (if mission requires).
(c) Once the team is prepared, it assumes a concealed position, and the security element departs the area.
(d) Once the security element has departed, the team waits in position long enough to ensure neither itself nor the security element has been compromised. Then, the team moves to its tentative position.
(2) The security element conducts a short security halt at the separation point. The sniper team halts, ensuring they have good available concealment and know each other’s location. The security element then proceeds, leaving the sniper team in place. The sniper team remains in position until the security element is clear of the area. The team then organizes itself as required by the mission and moves on to its tentative position. This type of separation also works well in MOUT situations.
When selecting routes, the sniper team must remember its strengths and weaknesses. The following guidelines should be used when selecting routes:
(1) Avoid known enemy positions and obstacles.
(2) Seek terrain that offers the best cover and concealment.
(3) Take advantage of difficult terrain (swamps, dense woods, and so forth).
(4) Do not use trails, roads, or footpaths.
(5) Avoid built-up or populated areas.
(6) Avoid areas of heavy enemy guerrilla activity.
When the sniper team moves, it must always assume its area is under enemy observation. Because of this and the size of the team with the small amount of firepower it has, the team uses only one type of formation-the sniper movement formation. Characteristics of the formation are as follows:
(1) The observer is the point man; the sniper follows.
(2) The observer's sector of security is 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock,
the sniper’s sector of security is 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock (overlapping).
(3) Visual contact must be maintained even when lying on the ground.
(4) An interval of no more than 20 meters is maintained.
(5) The sniper reacts to the point man’s actions.
(6) The team leader designates the movement techniques and routes used.
(7) The team leader designates rally points.
A sniper team must never become decisively engaged with the enemy. The team must rehearse immediate action drills to the extent that they become a natural and immediate reaction should it make unexpected contact with the enemy. Examples of such actions are as follows:
(1) Visual contact. If the sniper team sees the enemy and the enemy does not see the team, it freezes. If the team has time, it will do the following
(a) Assume the best covered and concealed position.
(b) Remain in position until the enemy has passed.
NOTE: The team will not initiate contact.
(2) Ambush. In an ambush, the sniper team’s objective is to break contact immediately. One example of this involves performing the following
(a) The observer delivers rapid fire on the enemy.
(b) The sniper throws smoke grenades between the observer and the enemy.
(c) The sniper delivers well-aimed shots at the most threatening targets until smoke covers the area.
(d) The observer then throws fragmentation grenades and withdraws toward the sniper, ensuring he does not mask the sniper’s fire.
(e) The team moves to a location where the enemy cannot observe or place direct fire on it.
(f) If contact cannot be broken, the sniper calls for indirect fires or a security element (if attached).
(g) If team members get separated, they should return to the next-to-last designated en route rally point.
(3) Indirect fire. When reacting to indirect fires, the team must move out of the area as quickly as possible. This sudden movement can result in the team’s exact location and direction being pinpointed. Therefore, the team must not only react to indirect fire but also take actions to conceal its movement once it is out of the impact area.
(a) The team leader moves the team out of the impact area using the quickest route by giving the direction and distance (clock method).
(b) Team members move out of the impact area the designated distance and direction.
(c) The team leader then moves the team farther away from the impact area by using the most direct concealed route. They continue the mission using an alternate route.
(d) If team members get separated, they should return to the next-to-last designated en route rally point.
(4) Air attack.
(a) Team members assume the best available covered and concealed positions.
(b) Between passes of aircraft, team members move to positions that offer better cover and concealment.
(c) The team does not engage the aircraft.
(d) Team members remain in positions until attacking aircraft depart.
(e) If team members get separated, they return to the next-to-last designated en route rally point.
(f) To aid the sniper team in navigation, the team should memorize the route by studying maps, aerial photos, or sketches. The team notes distinctive features (hills, streams, roads) and its location in relation to the route. It plans an alternate route in case the primary route cannot be used. It plans offsets to circumvent known obstacles to movement. The team uses terrain countdown, which involves memorizing terrain features from the start point to the objective, to maintain the route. During the mission, the sniper team mentally counts each terrain feature, thus ensuring it maintains the proper route.
(g) The sniper team maintains orientation at all times. As it moves, it observes the terrain carefully and mentally checks off the distinctive features noted in the planning and study of the route. Many aids are available to ensure orientation. The following are examples:
(1) The location and direction of flow of principal streams.
(2) Hills, valleys, roads, and other peculiar terrain features.
(3) Railroad tracks, power lines, and other man-made objects.