Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hide and Seek the Sniper Way

Hide and Seek the Sniper Way
April 23, 2008
Marine Corps Newsby LCpl Tyler J. Hlavac
KIN BLUE, Okinawa - Covered from head to foot in a ghillie suit made of netting interwoven with vegetation scavenged from the local terrain, Sgt. Gregory Evans slowly, inch by inch, stalks through the thick jungle foliage, hoping that no one sees him.

This assistant team leader with Marine Corps Base's Provost Marshal's Office Special Reaction Team knows the spotters are out there, visually scouring the underbrush for the slightest sign of movement. But he is confident in his position and his ability to get off two well aimed shots on the spotters without being detected. As he begins to set up for a shot, the unthinkable happens - he slips.

A few moments later he hears someone yell "freeze." He knows the game is over and he is busted.

But to his surprise, he finds out the spotters have seen someone else. He feels no relief however, knowing his slip could have ended the game just as easily.

Evans was one of three SRT marksman observers who joined nine scout snipers from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit's battalion landing team in a scout sniper course that ran April 1-18 and was designed to teach participants the fundamentals of the occupational specialty.

The course also serves as a precursor - before the marksman observers and some of the MEU Marines head off - to the Marine Corps' elite Scout Sniper School in Camp Pendleton, Calif., said Lance Cpl. John Cheney, an assistant team leader with Scout Sniper Platoon, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment. Cheney, along with other scout snipers in the platoon, helped set up the training.

Originally, the course was set up only for the MEU's scout snipers. But after hearing about the training, Evans thought it would be good for the SRT to get involved since the unit also sends Marines to Scout Sniper School. He contacted the MEU, which had no issues with adding the PMO Marines to the course.

"I thought it would be a good idea for our two (marksman observer) Marines to get some actual training because they're heading off to school," said Evans. "Additionally, I wanted to participate in the training so I would have techniques to train other Marines in my unit."

The overall goal of the event was for the Marines to move through the jungle, set up a good shooting position and fire two well aimed shots at the spotter using blanks, all without being seen. To accomplish this, the Marines had to utilize proper movement techniques while using camouflage and the terrain to their advantage.

While the jungle training was hard going for the SRT Marines, who are more accustomed to using sniper techniques in urban settings, it was worth it as they came out of the course with a better understanding of stalking techniques, Evans said.

Cheney said he was pleased with the way the course unfolded.

"The Marines have done a great job during all this training we put them through, especially the SRT guys," he said.

Cheney pointed out that while even the newest 2/4 Marines had done a few stalks before, it was a first for the SRT Marines.

The SRT Marines were also impressed by the scout snipers, Evans said.

"The scout snipers are very professional and knowledgeable. They definitely know what to teach us," Evans said. "With the training I have received so far, I believe that I could go out on a sniper mission with them and, while I wouldn't be perfect, I could definitely get the job done."

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