Thursday, August 19, 2010

Praxis: The Sangin Sniper

Afghan mujahideen with .303 Enfields.

Cherish your enemies. They teach you the most important lessons. -- Ho Chi Minh.

From an article in the Wall street Journal entitled "Sniper in Afghan Town Puts Marines on Edge" by Michael M. Phillips:

Somewhere in this dusty town, concealed among the cornfields, irrigation canals and mud-walled compounds, is a man the Marines particularly want to kill.

They don't know what he looks like. But they know he is a very good shot with a long rifle, and, every day he remains alive, he is drawing Marine blood.

In the seven days since the men of Lima Company, Third Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment arrived in town, the Sangin sniper has persecuted them with methodical, well-aimed shots, fired one at a time. His toll so far: two men killed—one American and one British—and one man wounded.

Two Marines have survived hits they say came from a second shooter, believed to be less proficient and careful than the first. . .

But the sniper has caused the most damage—a deadly reminder that the Taliban insurgency has its share of well-trained fighters capable of frustrating the allied mission.

"He's hitting people—that's very disruptive," said 1st Sgt. John Calhoun, 41 years old, from Konawa, Okla. "But it's not interfering with what we're trying to do here."

The sniper struck first on Aug. 13, the day after Lima Company arrived. A Marine stepped out of his armored vehicle just 100 yards or so from a secure U.S.-British patrol base. He threw away some trash and exchanged a few words with another Marine. The sniper fired a single, lethal shot.

On the same day, a British army engineer—20-year-old Darren Foster from Carlisle, England—was in a guard post in front of the same patrol base. British troops have built a covered, bunkered pathway so the guards aren't exposed to enemy fire as they walk down from the hilltop base. The post is protected by bulletproof glass, except for small gaps through which the guards fire their weapons. The sniper timed his single shot and killed the engineer as he walked past the opening.

"He hit a moving target in a space this big," said Capt. Jim Nolan, Lima Company's commander, holding his hands about nine inches apart.

On Aug. 14, a U.S. tank mechanic took a round in the torso as he carried sandbags across a small bridge. The protective plate in his body armor stopped the round. . .

Other Marines believe the evidence suggests a second shooter, less accurate and armed with a smaller-caliber weapon.

Then on Sunday, the snipers hit twice. First, Lance Cpl. Derek Simpson took a round to the head.

One of the Marines' tank-like mine-clearing vehicles had slipped off of a dirt bridge, knocking the track off the sprocket wheel. The Marines hitched it to a tow-tank and pulled until the track came completely free, then set to work putting it back in place. Lance Cpl. Simpson, of Third Combat Engineer Battalion, was working on the project and talking to some other Marines when he felt a hard blow to his head.

The sniper's bullet had apparently hit the tank and ricocheted into the front right side of Lance Cpl. Simpson's helmet. It punched into the Kevlar shell, but didn't penetrate all the way.

Lance Cpl. Simpson, who was raised in Gary, Texas, can't recall if he was knocked to the ground or threw himself there to avoid another shot. Another Marine dragged him to cover. He lay on his back as a friend pulled off his helmet to reveal a bloody welt on the right side of his forehead. Two Navy corpsmen, the Marine equivalent of Army medics, decided against stitches. . .

The other Marines pulled him, too, behind an armored vehicle, where a corpsman treated his wounded leg. The men called frantically for an armored ambulance, but were relieved that the corpsman found the bullet had missed the femoral artery. The wound wasn't life-threatening.

Back at the patrol base, Sgt. Johnny Bailey watched a live video feed of the scene at the bridge and tried to find out which way the Marine had fallen. "That way I'll know the direction of the shot," he said.

The Marines send their own snipers out hunting. The Marine scout-snipers, who go through extensive training, are reluctant to grant that title to the insurgent gunman. They might allow him "marksman," a lesser honorific.

"He's a decent shot—not a great shot," one Marine sniper said as he headed out the patrol base to try to kill the insurgent. He had heard the thump and crack of each of the sniper's shots. He estimates from the sound that the Sangin sniper is less than 600 yards away from his targets. Still, the Sangin sniper appears careful and clever.

During the U.S.-led offensive earlier this year in Marjah, another Helmand province hot spot, one insurgent sniper positioned himself two or three rooms deep inside a building, concealed well enough to hide the flash of his rifle's muzzle. His shots would travel room-to-room through the building, exit through a small hole in the exterior wall and hit Marines on a rooftop outpost. It took Marine snipers days to locate and kill him.

Like I said, interesting. I hope they kill the goat-molester soon, if for no other sake than the American and British mothers of these boys who are sitting back at home. They don't say what weapons platform is suspected, only that the sniper has a "long rifle," nor do they say whether the caliber is 7.62x54R or .303 British. Obviously it is at least thirty caliber. The one lesson that can be drawn is that one man is giving a whole lot of Brits and American Marines the fits.



Toaster 802 said...

...Want to know what the first Kenyan and Company do not want Garands from Korea re-imported into the country?


Anonymous said...

Also proves how effective it is to waste the resources of the target in trying to find him. A whole lot of people, the effort to find ONE person. Think of all the time expended if that ONE shows up once every three weeks - he's there that one time, while they are there EVERY DAY looking for him, wasting 20 dyas of effort because he is not there.

Lots of time - resources - that can get expensive over time.

Anonymous said...

Toaster 802, Too late.....there's already more than enough here...they missed the boat.:^)

Anonymous said...

A quote from the book "Trigger Men",
"this is a good time for you to get your feet wet and make your first kill" and handed me the Remington 700 sniper rifle. I was dumbfounded-the kid looked like he was not much more then 10 years old, it was an easy kill. When the SHTF over here, these same snipers that WILL shoot children, are not going to hesitate to shoot a 3%er. If a another country invaded the US, I wonder how many of us would be taking a shot or two at them? When they start kicking in doors over here to confiscate our weapons, you can bet the military will be with them. All we are doing over there are creating people who hate us even more then they did.

Taylor H said...

Well Toaster, I guess they'll just go to the scrap heap. As for the article, there is a video on Youtube of one such instance where the sniper used a .303 Enfield.

Defender said...

Those "antiquated bolt-action rifles" and a little bit of tactics.
Plus "20 rounds of ammunition and the will to use them."

pdxr13 said...

Accurate rifles are interesting rifles. It doesn't matter if they are .303,-54R,.30-'06,8mmMauser, or .308Win. Americans are blessed with plenty of new/used/surplus tools available for a determined man to use.

"Marksman" is sufficient for many situations. Marine Scout Sniper is extraordinary, thus scarce and very expensive to select,train, and correctly deliver against high-value enemy with the expectation that the sniper will return to base for more of the same.

Marksman is a designation that nearly every soldier, militiaman, or Guardsman/Reservist can reasonably attain. Many hunters are nearly there, needing only to consider that the prey may return fire. The training is available, equipment not too expensive for an employed American to afford over time. Where else in the world is a new bolt action rifle and scope available for 2 weeks pay, or used for half that?


Dennis308 said...

This shows what one man can do against his enemy one shot at a time, a lesson to learn here. Not to preach to the choir, but make sure YOU know How to Shoot as well as you are ABLE and attend a Appleseed Event. If don´t know the basics you will not be hitting your TARGET, it will be your Target Hitting YOU. If you shoot well already you will shoot better.
Get in shape, Practice your skills, know your Friends and your Enemys, Remember YOU are the Weapon.


Concerned American said...

Apropos of this topic:

Scoped Hunting Rifles As Long-Range Rifles

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that those old .303 Enfields can be made to be quite accurate, though they are military-grade rifles that weren't designed or made to be super accurate, plus these are old and worn.

Note that many "sporting" rifles are available in .308 which will shoot 1 MOA out 500 yards with the right glass and the right shooter. Hitting a torso-sized target at that range is extremely doable, and we have literally millions of ex-military and hunters who can do that in their sleep. Which, if I were a tyrant or tyrant-wannabee, wouldn't make me sleep easy.

The Trainer said...

Related to the subject, though not necessarily the post, is this:

If you have the money, get your favorite bolt gun fitted with a vortex.

You'll be glad you did.

Pericles said...

This article and my view of the film Restripo point out that we are allotting insufficient force to the effort. If there was a reserve force available, a cordon and search operation would isolate and neutralize the guy with the long rifle.

Chuck Martel said...

Our side owns all the deer rifles.

Texas Cigar said...

It funny this article came up. I was just talking to my 16 year old brother-in-law about how you don’t need the latest and greatest “sniper rifle” to be a good shot. He told me he was ready for my 700P. I just shook my head and told him no. He has to learn “to shoot” first. The bolt action 22 with iron sights is just right for him right now. We read the article and we talked about it. And I think he is understands.

Dedicated_Dad said...

A few years back, I picked up an old No.4 Mk.1 Enfield at a show - paid $200 for the rifle, a spike bayonet, and a can with 190 surplus rounds on strippers.

The old rifle was beat to hell - numbers don't match, wood not even close - but headspaced ok and seemed to function well despite its ugliness.

I never fired it - it sat in the closet for a few years - until I needed something to use in a bolt-action "battle rifle" shoot.

Never having knowledge of the Enfield, the bolt springing back under spring pressure scared me, so I contacted a knowledgeable friend. He volunteered to help sight her in and brought his fancy, high-dollar rest to assist.

At 25 yards I couldn't even find paper. Being alone at the range, we moved all the way to the berm so we could see the dirt kick up and know where the shot was going.

By the time we got her dialed in, the front-sight was nearly 1/2 out of the dovetail. I've never seen one so off-center.

Still, once she was properly (snerk) sighted, we pulled back to 50, 100 then 200 yards (limit of the range).

Using his fancy-nancy rest, that old crooked-@$$ rifle was dumping 5-shot cloverleaf patterns at 200 yards with iron sights.

It's still the ugliest - and most accurate - rifle I own.

NEVER underestimate the old Enfields!


Bad Cyborg said...

They got a nice deal at CDNN Sports on an FNAR .308. $1,300 gets you a fully militarized semi-automatic rifle with 1 20rd mag, bipod, scope rings, and 3 each interchangable cheek rests and butt pads.

Check it oun pg 41 of their catalog.

Come Feb I turn 59 1/2 and the IRA is gonna get hit.

Bad Cyborg X
Burying your head in the sand only makes your ass a better target."

McWopski said...

Whether it's a bolt-action, lever-action, single-shot, surplus, store bought, even a muzzle loader, it only has to work once. Then you take possession of a new, well-maintained, assault rifle and drive on.

Dennis308 said...

In reference to Bad Cyborg´s comment about the FN-AR, if I remember correctly the FN is a Gas Piston Rifle It don´t look like a Traditional AR But the Action is SMOOOOOTH. Almost bought one but I found a M1-A1 that I had, haon the wish list for a long time.


Anonymous said...

The one I've got will do just fine. The only problem is that I've never tried to shoot anything over 200 yards off. That is something I need to practice...

Anonymous said...

I can reliably hit a man sized target at 600yds (from a rest) using iron sights with my Mosin, Enfield, and Garand. They are old and brutally accurate. I love the looks on the vid game wannabe's with their new AR's and M1A's that can't hit squat because they think the optics will overcome crappy skills. My $100 Mosin rocks and is outshooting their $1500+ toys. Appleseed taught me how to do that and I'll never forget it.

Marine Wife said...

This is probably a story I should NOT have read because it just let me know that my husband is in danger, that is his battalion and company referenced in the article. I just ask that everyone pray for the safety of these men & hopefully sooner than later they'll take out that damn sniper!

Jean said...

Prayers for your husband's safety, Marine Wife.

Anonymous said...

Marine Wife,
Prayer sent, God Bless

Dennis308 said...

Marine Wife, Mam I think most of us here that Pray. Pray for the safe returns of all our sons, daughters, Brothers and Sisters all. But tonight I´ll pray a little harder.