November 22, 2012

The rise of the sniper

Filed under: Military, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 10:27

Strategy Page looks at the changed — and increased — role of the sniper in modern US military doctrine:

In the last decade, American soldiers and marines have greatly increased their use of snipers and the success of this move spread to other countries. The more aggressive use of snipers in the last decade is one of many changes in ground combat. In that time, because of Iraq and Afghanistan, infantry tactics have changed considerably. This has largely gone unnoticed back home, unless you happen to know an old soldier or marine that remembers the old style of shooting. Put simply, the emphasis is on a lot fewer bullets fired and much more accurate shooting. Elite forces, like the Special Forces and SEALs, have always operated this way. But that’s because they had the skill, and opportunity to train frequently, to make it work. The army and marines have found that their troops can fight the same way with the help of some new weapons, equipment, and tactics, plus lots of combat experience and specialized training. This includes the use of new shooting simulators, which allows troops to fire a lot of virtual bullets in a realistic setting, without all the hassle and expense of going to a firing range.

One thing that helped, and that was developing for two decades, was the greater use of snipers. Currently, about ten percent of American infantry are trained and equipped as snipers. Commanders have found that filling the battlefield with two man (spotter and shooter) sniper teams not only provides more intelligence, but also a lot of precision firepower. Snipers are better at finding the enemy, and killing them with a minimum of noise and fuss. New rifle sights (both day and night types) have made all infantry capable of accurate, single shot, fire. With the emphasis on keeping civilian casualties down, and the tendency of the enemy to use civilians as human shields, lots of snipers, or infantrymen who can take an accurate shot at typical battle ranges (under 100 meters), are the best way to win without killing a lot of civilians.

1 Comment

  1. The conflicts today are not wars as we defined them in the past. Armies fighting armies don’t happen all that often any more. The civilians are, in many ways, willing participants shielding the insurgents who don’t fight in the open. Much like in Gaza, willing, and unwilling, civilians are being killed because the “enemy” isn’t following the typical rules of warfare, but are utilizing human shields and the media to make their case. When you can’t win on the field, maybe you can win in the newspapers.

    This then makes for a casualty averse reaction, trying to minimize the newspaper effect by pin point killing. Bombs and missles aren’t that good at pinpoint, snipers are. As I said, all we need to do is look at the situation with Israel and we can see how the media distorts/misrepresents the fact.

    Comment by Dwayne — November 22, 2012 @ 10:39

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