CONTINUATION TRAINING FOR SNIPERS
British Sniper pair field firing, but Sniping does not stop here!
Once our basic soldier becomes proficient in the Art of Sniping he is often considered good enough to deploy on operations in the Sniping role. This happens (At least in the British Army) all too often because Commanders do not know the slightest thing about the Sniper.
This practice sells the soldier short and will ultimately lead to his death! Sniper courses are called basic courses because this is what they are, the basic minimum, a launch pad, and the start of a Snipers career.
In this article I will touch on some of the continuation training required to bring Snipers to an acceptable deployable level
METHOD OF INSERTION
SF Snipers can insert via various means, Parachute, Boat, Helicopter, Vehicle or foot. Snipers need to at ease with each method so insertion to the area of Ops goes smoothly.
PARACHUTE: Various types can be used to insert the Sniper, these include:
a. Static line - Low level rapid deployment canopies (LLP's) are used by UK
Parachute Regiment. These have an operational jump height
of 250 feet.
b. Static line Squares - 3000 - 5000 foot jump height, instantly deployed chute that
can be steered to the Area of operations.
c. HALO - Primarily used by Para Reg Pathfinder Pl and SAS. 25000 foot jump
height using oxygen. Low opening 1000 foot normal.
d. HAHO - 25000 foot jump height, canopy deployed early in order to fly to the
Problems encountered using Para insertion: Weight of kit becomes an issue. Radios, Spare batteries, Ancills, Sniper rifle, Night Sight, Spotting Scope, Leica range finders, Tripod, Ammunition, water, rations, report writing kit, SA80 rifle, prismatic compass, these are all must go items and weigh down a pair significantly.
Solution: Train Snipers to live as rough as possible, make them suffer the cold, wettest and most miserable places in the world. Train them to live off the land, practice them in Escape and evasion and resistance to interrogation. Ensure they get use to doing without the luxury items such as Gore-Tex, Sleeping bags etc..
This approach will do two things:
The British field a number of smaller insertion type boats that may be used by Snipers to insert into an area of operations;
A. 2 Man Recce Boat - These are held by all Infantry Bn's and are inflatable. Quite
small in nature, prone to puncture and have limited space for two men and
equipment. However are silent (Oar propelled), easy to conceal and take minimum
B. Ridged and Inflatable Raider craft - Small light weight man portable rubber or
metal boats. Suited for up to eight soldiers and equipment. Can be fitted with
outboard motor or rowed. Better for faster flowing rivers and speed (if motor used).
Takes longer to train troops to use, harder to conceal and manoeuvre. More room
for men and equipment.
Helicopters are a useful tool that add flexibility to operations and can be used to insert Sniper teams by landing (touch down), Abseil (rappelling) or fast roping. However aircraft signature can be counter productive so the use of dummy runs and drop offs can aid deception as can inserting pairs using primarily recce aircraft such as the Gazelle.
Various vehicles may be used to insert snipers via Drop off, add this to routine patrol movement, night insertion etc.. and Snipers can infiltrate to greater depth after leaving their transport.
Snipers can also be equipped with ATV's or Motorcycles these of course become a logistical problem and create noise and easy targets while on the move. Vehicle borne Snipers are best employed during battle group advances. Here we keep them in reserve and use the vehicles to quickly deploy them to areas where they can be used to best effect, such as blocking/delaying enemy reinforcement, targeting Enemy specialists such as engineers clearing mine fields or targeting escaping enemy. The vehicles allow swift movement during a fluid battle.
Ultimately Snipers no matter how they reach their drop off point will rely on their feet as their main mode of transport. This allows them to remain undetected but also means they again are greatly affected by the load they carry.
RESISTANCE TO INTERROGATION (RTI)
Snipers as with all advance forces are prone to capture and highly vulnerable. Therefore it is important that soldiers are taught the fundamentals of Escape and evasion and in the worst case RTI. Survival techniques must be taught and practiced, Snipers must be able to live off the land in order to be self contained whilst deployed, this aids their ability to remain undetected due to a non existent re-supply signature.
Snipers must be able to find or create the following;
These are all basic needs for an individual to survive; being able to find these in all environments allows the Sniper to sustain himself if things go wrong.
This differs from basic survival because the soldier is on the run, hence priorities change. Traps and trapping become an unviable option. The soldier needs to evade capture and keep moving. Water and navigation are the key aspects required, food is a luxury and any found needs to become portable. Hence animal kills require the soldier to rip out high nourishment organs that may be eaten raw such as sheep livers. (If you don't believe we practice this ask any 101st members who visited 1 Para back in 84, any out there?) The will to survive, a cunning approach and guile are the order of the day.
ESCAPE AND EVASION PLAN
Detailed E & E plans must be incorporated into pre-deployment orders. Plans for RV procedures, their locations and opening times require working out and memorising. Who sponsors RV's, Combat recovery plan or Combat search and rescue plans need to be thought through. These fundamental procedures must be adhered to once in theatre if rescue is to be expected. (Failure to do so was Bravo Two zero's fatal mistake) A War RV must be decided and should be in a safe location i.e. a friendly country.
In the event of capture Snipers must know how to react. Their first priority should be survival. A soldier will never be able to resist interrogation for prolonged periods. With this in mind pre-deployment preparation can lessen the blow of captured soldiers.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
These points are by no means the end of it. Snipers must master Communications, First Aid, Arty/Mor indication, FAC procedures, team, section and Platoon SOP's (standard Operational procedures). They must keep on top of their basic skills, shooting, judging distance, Navigation, Camouflage, Stalking etc... They must practice in all environments; they must work on their observational skills and produce timely and accurate information. The list goes on!
Train hard, train for War and endure hardships!
All the best Slugboy!