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The military sniper dates back to the time of the Revolutionary War, and has been employed in every war and country since then. This US Army training film presents an overview of military snipers in past conflicts. Describes the functions, training and employment of sniper teams within units. Points out that the role of the modern sniper team is to enhance and augment means of eliminating the enemy. Also discusses the sniper sustainment training program.
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A sniper is a marksman or qualified specialist who operates alone, in a pair, or with a sniper team to maintain close visual contact with the enemy and engage targets from concealed positions or distances exceeding the detection capabilities of enemy personnel. These sniper teams operate independently, with little combat asset support from their parent units.
Snipers typically have highly selective or specialized training and use crew-served high-precision/special application rifles and optics, and often have sophisticated communication assets to feed valuable combat information back to their units.
In addition to marksmanship and long range shooting, military snipers are trained in camouflage, field craft, infiltration, special reconnaissance and observation, surveillance and target acquisition.
Snipers in modern warfare:
Generally, a sniper’s primary function in modern warfare is to provide detailed reconnaissance from a concealed position and, if necessary, to reduce the enemy’s fighting ability by neutralizing high value targets (especially officers and other key personnel) and in the process pinning down and demoralizing the enemy. Typical sniper missions include managing intelligence information they gather during reconnaissance and surveillance, target acquisition for air-strikes and artillery, assist employed combat force with fire support and counter-sniper tactics, killing enemy commanders, selecting targets of opportunity, and even destruction of military equipment, which tend to require use of anti-materiel rifles in the larger calibers such as the .50 BMG, like the Barrett M82, McMillan Tac-50, and Denel NTW-20.
Snipers have increasingly been demonstrated as being useful by US and UK forces in the recent Iraq campaign in a fire support role to cover the movement of infantry, especially in urban areas.
Military snipers from the US, UK, and other countries that adopt their military doctrine are typically deployed in two-man sniper teams consisting of a shooter and spotter. A common practice is for a shooter and a spotter to take turns in order to avoid eye fatigue. In most recent combat operations occurring in large densely populated towns such as Fallujah, Iraq, two teams would be deployed together to increase their security and effectiveness in an urban environment. A sniper team would be armed with their long range weapon, and a shorter ranged weapon to engage and protect the team should enemies come in close contact. German doctrine of largely independent snipers and emphasis on concealment developed during the Second World War have been most influential on modern sniper tactics, currently used throughout Western militaries (examples are specialized camouflage clothing, concealment in terrain and emphasis on coup d’œil).
Military sniper training aims to teach a high degree of proficiency in camouflage and concealment, stalking, observation and map reading as well as precision marksmanship under various operational conditions. Trainees typically shoot thousands of rounds over a number of weeks, while learning these core skills.
Snipers are trained to squeeze the trigger straight back with the ball of their finger, to avoid jerking the gun sideways. The most accurate position is prone, with a sandbag supporting the stock, and the stock’s cheek-piece against the cheek. In the field, a bipod can be used instead. Sometimes a sling is wrapped around the weak arm (or both) to reduce stock movement. Some doctrines train a sniper to breathe deeply before shooting, then hold their lungs empty while they line up and take their shot. Some go further, teaching their snipers to shoot between heartbeats to minimize barrel motion.
United States Army Sniper School:
The U.S. Army Sniper School is part of the United States Army 197th Infantry Brigade based at Fort Benning, Georgia. The first U.S. Army Sniper School was short lived, being established in 1955, but disbanded in 1956 at Camp Perry, Ohio. The U.S. Army’s first permanent sniper school was established in 1987 at Fort Benning, Georgia.
US Army Snipers | US Army Training Film: Sniper Employment | 1992