Snipers are important in any generation of warfare, however, in a fourth generation fight, they are truly the queen of battle. They are faceless and formless, appearing only as a crack of a rifle from the depths of nowhere, while wreaking havoc on individuals. It is initiative, however, that makes them stand apart from other combat elements. With their target detection and marksmanship training, coupled with the optical advantage from their special equipment, they can engage any target with the utmost of confidence. This allows the sniper, or sniper team, to operate free of the rigid and suffocating chain of command which can slow operations down. Additionally, a three man sniper team can and should be able to break down into individual snipers in order to “triangulate” a target on their team leader's initiative. These teams/individuals will make allies in the local populace as they live and work amongst themselves. It is important to note this can go either way: in Iraq, Americans gave the name Juba to what could have been one or a thousand snipers- we will probably never know. Even an unskilled sniper can bring chaos and defeat to an organization. This article is meant to introduce the three different types of snipers that, either you are or you could face.
The Spray and Pray
While not the best shot, or even a competent one, this armed irregular is a sniper that knows his terrain like the back of his hand. He is usually local to the area which makes catching him nearly impossible as there are numerous places the shooter will be able to blend into. The old saying goes, “The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea,” will prove true for this type of sniper because of his ability to fit in seamlessly with the neighborhood. Ditching the rifle, hanging out at Mohammed's, and avoiding detection is simply easy. (No Mista…Chai?)
These snipers are not trained shooters and some will even shoot with their eyes closed. They have minimal equipment, usually armed with a rusty assault rifle. The final firing position will be an undisciplined spot, usually a balcony, rooftop, or alleyway. Once they shoot, they will disappear quickly, and although their rifle might be found, the shooter will most likely not.
The Gun Nut
The trained marksman is usually a veteran of a military organization, an avid hunter, or a gun enthusiast. While he may have vast experience in marksmanship and range estimation, he lacks the skills of target detection and fieldcraft that trained snipers possess. Bear in mind, all you gear queers out there, that it is not the equipment that places you in this category, rather, it is your ability to shoot. So keep practicing your fundamentals while conducting dry fires, you’ll eventually get into this category!!
The trained marksman can be an expert with any weapon system and excels at ranges between 300-600 meters with most rifles. He knows basic cover and concealment techniques, and if combined with a knowledge of the area, can become nearly invisible. However, the trained marksman will make some mistakes when choosing his firing positions, like shooting from a tower or rooftop, which will make him easier to defeat. This is especially true if he becomes engaged with our next category.
The Tom Berenger
This is a person that you truly do not want to have to deal with. They are unbelievably vain, thinking they are a tier above Special Forces, with only Delta being their true equals. Professional snipers usually have amazing hair, which will get them into trouble with their command. They can make any shot in the known universe, laws of physics be damned!! (Unless that weird crosswind picks up again only when THEY shoot…) They also make excellent dart players and can be found in many a bar, usually with a wad of bummed Copenhagen in their lower lip so large they have trouble drinking and/or talking. However, they will swear up and down that they need it in or else they will miss every shot horribly.
Getting serious, this threat is a huge problem should you encounter it and a huge asset if your command uses them correctly, which is admittedly rare (battalion Commanders are stubborn about their second generation hierarchy from World War I). Knowledgeable in all terrains and experts in a few, these guys are the kings of fourth generation battlefields due to their speed, stealth, and initiative. Professional snipers have mastered the four fundamentals of marksmanship, thus can reach the max ranges of all weapons systems. They have been trained intimately in the four pillars of sniper craft which are range estimation, target detection, marksmanship, and stalking. This means that they are capable of independently operating in most environments, identifying a target, ranging the target (without a rangefinder), and interdicting the target with one round (ok, or two). They complete these missions with little to no guidance from the chain of command. Additionally, they can assist the command with reconnaissance of objectives in other areas of warfare. Thus making the professional sniper a force to be reckoned with. All of this is why the sniper is the queen of the fourth generation battlefield.
Whatever category you think you are in, subtract one. If you are a professionally trained sniper but haven’t trained in a long time, then you are a trained marksman until you get the rust off. Additionally, remember that if you graduate from a schoolhouse, you are very raw in the sniper community. You merely have a solid base to work from, and you still need to build the rest of the house, then maintain it.