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Thread: Snipers Sniping & Countering them

  1. #181
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Advice on posting

    From Bill Moore:
    I recommend posting helpful tips (that don't require links) for the guys who have limited bandwidth and/or time to read, and then post longer studies for those on staffs who need to develop a more comprehensive counter sniper strategy. Don't assume that all of our guys have been taught old school infantry tactics for countering a sniper, so even if it sounds basic to you please post it, it may be new to that 19 year old on point.
    Taken from SWJ comment.
    davidbfpo

  2. #182
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    There is a lot of talk about sniping in Afganistan ... long time ago

    http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/documents/Skeen.pdf

    Mod adds: this 2010 PDF takes awhile to download and is reprint of Skeen's experience in the Imperial Indian era; oddly similar to a UK published book in 2008.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-17-2011 at 04:06 PM. Reason: Add Mod's note

  3. #183
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    "well-aimed single shot rifle fire" ≠ "sniper fire"

  4. #184
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Heh.

    Yep. Most often the case. Quite strong belief of son who recently returned and who also mentions that as 'new' units arrive in country, they have a learning curve and early (first 90 days or so) excessive excitability settles down to six months of slow, hard learning and then they only have 90 days of really competent productive effort before they rotate out. There are obvious exceptions in both directions, some units learn fast, METT-TC and unit character dependent, others seem to not learn at all. That in his observation over three tours there. It is also quite similar to my observations earlier and elsewhere.

    Those lengthy adaptation periods are a function of the overall intensity of combat. When one is getting shot at, it's all intense...

  5. #185
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    Fuchs,

    A school trained and well equipped sniper from Iran is not the same as a tribal militia member who can shoot straight. I suspect we're in agreement. I was hoping folks would share tactics and techniques for dealing with snipers, and not simply deny that the threat exists. Oh well, SWJ has its limits......, and TTPs shared on AKO are impossible to access when deployed....

  6. #186
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Idea. If you have access to LE types have them give a quick class on how to look at a body(wound impact point) and tell the general direction from which the shot came from. Focus on the area the shot is likely to have come from.

  7. #187
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaur View Post
    There is a lot of talk about sniping in Afganistan ... long time ago

    http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/documents/Skeen.pdf

    Mod adds: this 2010 PDF takes awhile to download and is reprint of Skeen's experience in the Imperial Indian era; oddly similar to a UK published book in 2008.
    Holy crap!!! Awesome post. I had never seen or heard of that document before, and seeing as how I am grinding through a compilation of Kipling's war stories and poetry, which has a lot on Afghanistan in it, this makes for a great companion.

  8. #188
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Idea. If you have access to LE types have them give a quick class on how to look at a body(wound impact point) and tell the general direction from which the shot came from. Focus on the area the shot is likely to have come from.
    Even more importantly, don't spazz out with the first crack of an errant round if the sniper has missed, but rather try to listen for the wump of the rifle's report, and note the direction it comes from. There lay your sniper.

    How long he remains there is a separate matter.
    Last edited by jcustis; 07-17-2011 at 06:00 PM.

  9. #189
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    How long he remains there is a separate matter.

    Very true, with some poor mans geographic profiling that problem can be solved.

  10. #190
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    Holy crap!!! Awesome post. I had never seen or heard of that document before, and seeing as how I am grinding through a compilation of Kipling's war stories and poetry, which has a lot on Afghanistan in it, this makes for a great companion.
    Sir, Amazon also has the exact same book, under a different title, in a nice little hardcover:

    http://www.amazon.com/LESSONS-IMPERI...0929199&sr=8-1

  11. #191
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Holy crap?

    I did post on the 'What Are You Reading' in March 2009 (Post No.371) that the Skeen book had been republished. Alas did not post much more.

    Please note the 2010 US Army edition has a different introduction.
    davidbfpo

  12. #192
    Council Member Pete's Avatar
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    During the Ruhr Pocket Campaign in April 1945 a marksman shot at my Dad and a bullet whistled past his head. It was probably somewhere between Siegburg and Dusseldorf. Dad had driven the commander of his 105mm battery forward so fire support coordination measures could be worked out with the Infantry. The boundary between the sectors of two Infantry battalions and their fire support had to be better defined so they would not be shooting into each others' sectors.

    While the battery commander talked to the supported Infantry officers Dad sat on a stone wall in the small village. A teenage boy walked up to him and began speaking to Dad in English. Dad complimented him on his English and the boy said it had been taught to him in school for the occupation of Britain.

    Right after that had been said, BLAM, a Mauser bullet whistled past Dad's ear. Dad hit the dirt behind the wall and the German kid ran way. The U.S Infantrymen in the village, 97th ID, shot out all of the windows and doors in the town.

    In hindsight I think it was a Hitler Jugend sucker-punch -- two teenage boys got together and made a plan. One said he'd start a conversation with a G.I. so the other one could have the opportunity to shoot him.

    In April and May 1945 there was a real fear by G.I.s and Tommies of being killed in these last-ditch gestures by teenagers. When things like that happen in war it's the opposite of COIN -- you have to treat everyone in the occupied country with suspicion and be ready to blow them away without a moment's hesitation.

  13. #193
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    On a lighter note, a great quote from the book:

    Officers should, of course, always carry a pistol when moving about, and by the way, if it is a revolver, never have more than five rounds in it, so that the striker may rest opposite an empty chamber. If it does not, as God made little apples, some day when you are slipping your belt off, the pistol and holster will slide off too, and if the hammer hits the ground first, one of your pals may “go west” in the rottenest possible way. In any case, you will get the devil and all of a fright and a first-class telling off. This is not far fetched. I have had a mule shot within a yard of me and a bullet between my legs another time, so be wise.
    I knew I there had to be some reason I never bought a revolver.

  14. #194
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Granite_State View Post
    Sir, Amazon also has the exact same book, under a different title, in a nice little hardcover:

    http://www.amazon.com/LESSONS-IMPERI...0929199&sr=8-1
    Eh, $30 is a little out there for something that is going to get added to my queue of a dozen other books...but just maybe.

    What's your impression of it GS?

  15. #195
    Council Member Pete's Avatar
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    The postscript to the above sniper story above is that when Dad and his battery commander drove back to their battery they decided to stop at a Gasthaus for a beer. The door of the Gasthaus was unlocked so they went inside and each had a beer. The place was deserted but beer was on tap and clean glasses were still in the rack.

    When I told that story to a Guadalcanal and Okinawa veteran of the 72nd Seabees he looked at me with total incomprehension -- the idea of driving up to a bar for a drink after an engagement had not been any part of his experience of the the South Pacific and Pacific Theaters!

  16. #196
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Previous Counter-sniper thread id'd

    Hat tip to Fuchs who updated another thread which led to a 2009 thread called 'C-sniper help', which appears to be the old counter-sniper thread:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=6773

    There are a number of links, some secure and referrals to places to ask.
    davidbfpo

  17. #197
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    All true.

    Don't waste ammunition, effort and time trying to do a Recon by Fire, it'll be ineffective against anyone with even a little experience and will only serve to show the bad guys that their effort is having an effect and we're excessively nervous. There's a place for Recon by Fire but this isn't it. There's no place for the 'Mad Minute' bit...

    Hopefully, US elms are using their ANA and ANP counterparts who have local sensitivity and better eyes for spotting bad guys in the rocks but we do have the advantage of being able to do a map recon -- assuming enough folks know how -- and deducing likely sniper and ambush locations on a route so that actions and reactions can be anticipated.

    Surely every elm in country is doing their best to avoid establishing ANY pattern, are using different routes out and back EVERY time and know that any habitation will contain observers who report our movements, as possibly will any otherwise innocent who happen to see us. We will never match the locals in terrain knowledge or in patience but we can use their terrain to our advantage and negate their patience advantage by doing the unexpected -- always.

    I suspect that the rediscovery by the bad guys in the 'Stan that the SMLE / Dragunoiv or whatever is a good stand off effort is aimed precisely at doing what it appears to be doing -- make people excessively nervous for no real benefit. The Troops will work it out if their Bosses do not over worry it.

    One of the likely problems, I'm inclined to believe, is that some current technology allows one to 'fix' the location of a distant shooter. That can and likely does cause target fixation on the part of the Boomerang or other techno gadget owner which can lead to a lot of effort being expended to chase a ghost.

    OTOH, if you have a bad shooter nearby, one who fires at you but hits nothing, best to leave him alone lest he be replaced by someone who does better. Seriously. I've seen that happen several times, once to include Gunships and an air strike on a guy who had hit no one in two days. Go getters sometimes go and get the wrong things...

    Life is simpler in a conventional war, one just drops a round or two from nearby Arty or Mortars.

    ADDED: Jcustis snuck in on me -- he and Chris are both right,the 'solution' is simply better training.
    Well if anything the following snippets are good arguments for those you say that some things stay pretty much the same, that good training is key, and that Ken White did serve in 'stan around 1919.

    (From Skeen's book
    For several years there was a tendency to try to lessen losses by what some termed “prophylactic fire" consisting of bursts of fire loosed off at any point where the enemy was suspected to be. It meant a ghastly waste of ammunition and on more than one occasion I know that it led to the 150 rounds carried on the man being exhausted almost before the troops had closed with the enemy. In the attack it can be very useful if the enemy is known to be there, but otherwise it should be most sparingly used.
    Abusing Recon by fire was certainly not unknown. The following citations appear to be from:
    Skeen's experience in the Imperial Indian era
    And talking about the persistent bad "sniper":

    In the old days anyone with a fask of powder and a percussion musket or “jezail” could have quite a cheery evening sniping into camp from a hundred yards off—gave the sniper a warm feeling of patriotism and did not worry us much if piquets were in the right places. There was a persistent old bird who accompanied our brigade up and down the Khar Plain in 1897, who had a duck gun and a bullet mould which turned out eight-bore bullets in pairs joined up by a little runnel of lead—just like a small dumb-bell, and made a noise like a bull roarer. We quite missed him when a chance bullet laid him out.
    I guess that many will agree with the following one:

    You will now want to know how you are to deal with this “patience” danger. The solution—never relax any precautions—is obvious and easy to state, but devilish hard to apply because it is not natural to keep nerves and imagination on the stretch when there is apparently nothing to justify it. That is the trouble—day after day, whether on baggage escort or convoy or covering dutiesof patrol or any of the duties on which a young offcer may be off on his own, you will see nothing but bare hills or rock or bush, quiet as the grave, and on your part nothing but a weary track or hillside to be trod.

    It needs a great effort of will to keep yourself and your men alert, but if you are not, however empty the hillsides may be one minute, you may be paying the penalty the next. For remember the enemy is always there, and looking for you to make a mistake. I don’t say every mistake brings its punishment, but I do say that though you may make one mistake without paying for it, and if your luck is in two or three, all the time you are marked by unseen eyes as likely to give chances, and it will not be long before you know it. Conversely, if you are spotted as alert, and your battalion as one not to be monkeyed with, its reputation will spread behind the hills, and the raider will look for easier prey.
    About the wisdom of traveling randomly and light and not staying at the same place for another night. If you read further you will know what happened to that particular floating platoon.

    Here is another instance of the repeated mistake and its punishment. To give freedom in patrolling on one of the guarded sections of the Tochi road, to avoid the risk to weak patrols issuing from piquets, and to give those patrols a chance of effecting surprise and of varying their route each day, a system was started called “The Floating Platoon.” A quaint name, but the most descriptive to be found. A lightly equipped platoon moved up and down as the spirit moved it on the flanks of the road between the permanent piquets, and at nightfall billeted itself on any suitable piquet, resuming its work at dawn and moving back to a main camp at reasonable intervals for rest. The guiding principle was that on no two successive nights was the platoon to be at the same piquet. The system was most successful till this principle was abused, and one of the platoons for some reason spent three nights in one piquet. In fact the foating platoon ceased foating, and of course this was spotted by the enemy.
    About the airforce and information:

    You may say that one of the main diffculties of mountain operations should have disappeared, and that the blind column groping along a valley is a thing of the past. I doubt it. In 1919 at least, information was too deceptive to be useful, and practice did not improve matters. I remember so well after three months’ work and practice getting a report from the advanced aerodrome that the two planes up with us at the heaviest day’s fghting at Makinhad reported no sign of the enemy. I sympathized fully with their despair, good lads that they were, when ninety casualties were reported for the day. It was no fault of theirs—we had repeatedly to exhort them not to fly so low, for they were taking risks all the time in their efforts to help. But no one could have spotted those ragged grey-clothed fighters crouched among rock and grey ilex. From the ground it was hard; from the air it must have been impossible.

    I will not enter into the bitter controversy which always arises as the power of the Air Force to deal with tribal areas on its own. My own view is that these people are really so invulnerable in their miserable property, and in their persons save from accurate close range use of ground weapons, and are moreover so scattered and so adept at cover and concealment that I doubt whether any tribe that has the will to resist will ever to be coerced by air action alone. I think the Haji of Turangzai and his Mohmand friends agree with me.
    About good observation and the dropping of a few shells in the right place...

    I have a memory of part of a famous frontier battalion held up on a ridge by snipers on the fank whom they could not locate, and of two guns coming up to help, spotting the snipers in less than twenty seconds, and dispersing them with a couple of rounds. This particular battery had a system of training which produced super look-outs, human wolves, red-eyed with watching for victims, but what they did, any troops can do. So when you go to India, take your first leave shooting in Chamba or Kulu, or some wild part of Kashmir, and learn to use your eyes and glasses in the hills.

    And then use your knowledge to train your men in keeping their eyes moving whether halted or on the move. With many young eyes quartering the front [see jcustis first post] and watching every ridge and rock and bush, no enemy movement should escape you, and you will be ready for them.
    Last edited by Firn; 07-18-2011 at 06:37 PM. Reason: Add source of citations, except one.

  18. #198
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    As the post grew too long, here the last bit from Skeen's experience in the Imperial Indian era:

    And that brings me to the tribesman’s patience. These folks have nothing to do but to watch for an opportunity. If it doesn’t come one day, it is bound to come the next or the next, or, at any rate often enough to make it worth their while to watch for it. And if, when it comes, it looks like being too costly, they are perfectly ready to put it off till a better chance comes. Remember, they have had no work to do, no camp to get to, they have range upon range of hill to screen them for as long as they choose, and night has no terrors for them. They will return to the job day after day without anyone having an inkling of their presence, and then when the real chance comes they seize it like lightning.
    You have the watches, we have the time...
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-18-2011 at 06:40 PM. Reason: Add source of citation

  19. #199
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default The basics don't change much...

    Then as now if a unit looks alert and performs minor actions competently, most of the bad guys will leave them alone and await an easier target. Long time ago it was learned in such operations to never, ever do the same thing twice and never stay anyplace for more than 12-16 hours without modifiying your strength and positions. The basics aren't that hard -- we just do not teach them well.

    And, like the Floating Platoon, sometimes even those that know just get lazy or sloppy -- always a killer...

  20. #200
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Then as now if a unit looks alert and performs minor actions competently, most of the bad guys will leave them alone and await an easier target. Long time ago it was learned in such operations to never, ever do the same thing twice and never stay anyplace for more than 12-16 hours without modifiying your strength and positions. The basics aren't that hard -- we just do not teach them well.

    And, like the Floating Platoon, sometimes even those that know just get lazy or sloppy -- always a killer...

    Skeen certainly was rather keen on that being prepared point, and repeated it many times. He also wrotethat you could far tell more about the leadership, moral and discipline about a unit from all those small details in the field than by it's performance on the parade square. I think it is hard to argue against that. Of course doing the basics right under often very difficult circumstances requires a lot from training to the leaders and troops.

    Looking for the weak and lazy as targets must be part of our inner wolves, as this is just how many larger carnivores operate. A Lynx will operate just like that, hunt for a while in an certain area of his range until the roe deer becomes too wary and than move on to find less alerted prey. Signs of force and vitality tends to make predators look for easier prey, unless the disperation is too strong.

    I wonder how much has changed in this regard (still from Skeen's book, the link is in this thread):

    Be particularly alert in the rear guard work on the return journey. For the friendly tribesman, having collected payment, is by no means above chivvying the rear guard home. He can always blame the bad men from the next valley (who may be—probably will be—there also on their own), and the rear guard, though it may have an easy time, ought to behave as if it expected trouble. If it does not, the odds are on getting it. And that is another reason against delay in any part of the work. Every moment wasted means a closer approach of evening and of increasing numbers of the enemy intent on harrying the withdrawal.
    Coming back to "sniping":

    Another hint—do not halt your men on tracks or near conspicuous rocks, and so forth. These are always known ranging marks. And your men will not halt near you. “Officers and white stones”—the old soldier’s rule still holds.

    This is not a thing to neglect. The accuracy of these people’s shooting is sometimes astounding. I have mentioned the case of the Ahnai Tangi, when I was warning you not to bunch your men on a crest. This was not an isolated fluke. At Makin I saw four men knocked out by one sniper, known to have been fifteen hundred yards off; and shortly before that, taking up camp at Marobi, one man, who was bagged before he could do more damage, got two men and two mules in five shots, at a range of not less than five hundred yards.
    I certainly have a hard time believing that Makin incident, maybe they missed a man (or men) which shot from a closer range. The second one sounds certainly doable, by a (very) good shot with good eyes and a good enough weapon.

    And at last:

    Wherever and however you get into camp, there is a most important point to keep in mind, that, in an inexperienced push—that is, almost invariably at the first entry into hostile country—there will be more than a tendency—an irresistible urge—to reply to snipers’ fire and even to
    blaze off at noises or fluttering papers. The Manual is emphatic on the idiocy of this, but no matter, your men will do it unless you yourself see to it that they do not.
    Last edited by Firn; 07-19-2011 at 06:19 PM.

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