View Full Version : Insurgents have demanded the Marines pull back their snipers

04-18-2004, 04:56 PM
Marine Corps Snipers Aim to Strike Fear
With their 'One bullet, one kill' motto, the sharpshooters try to clear the streets and undermine insurgents in Fallouja, Iraq.
By Tony Perry
Times Staff Writer

April 17, 2004

FALLOUJA, Iraq Taking a short breather Friday, the 21-year-old Marine corporal explained what it was like to practice his lethal skill in the battle for this city.

"It's a sniper's dream," he said in polite, matter-of-fact tones. "You can go anywhere and there are so many ways to fire at the enemy without him knowing where you are."

Sniping killing an enemy from long distance with a single shot has become a significant tactic for Marines in this Sunni Triangle city as three battalions skirmish daily with armed fighters who can find cover among buildings, walls and trees.

Marine sniper teams are spread in and around the city, working night and day, using powerful scopes, thermal imaging equipment and specially modified bolt-action rifles that allow them to identify and target armed militants from 800 yards or more.

Sniping experts there are several here with the Marines say there may not have been such a "target-rich" battlefield since the World War II battle for Stalingrad, during which German and Russian snipers dueled for months.

As a military tactic, sniping is centuries old; the first snipers used bows and arrows. Leonardo da Vinci is said to have been a sniper in fighting against the Holy Roman Empire.

Weapons change, but the goal of the sniper remains the same: harass and intimidate the enemy, make him afraid to venture into the open, deny him the chance to rest and regroup.

The Marines believe their snipers have killed hundreds of insurgents, though that figure alone does not accurately portray the significance of sniping. A sign on the wall of sniper school at Camp Pendleton displays a Chinese proverb: "Kill One Man, Terrorize a Thousand."

"Sometimes a guy will go down, and I'll let him scream a bit to destroy the morale of his buddies," said the Marine corporal. "Then I'll use a second shot."

In negotiations aimed at ending the standoff in the city, the insurgents have demanded the Marines pull back their snipers.

A shaky truce exists between the Marines who surround the city and the fighters within the circle. But the cease-fire allows the Marines to carry out defensive operations within the city, which they define as, among other things, allowing fire on insurgents who display weapons, break the curfew or move their forces toward U.S. troops.

Although official policy discourages Marines from keeping a personal count of those they have killed, the custom continues. In nearly two weeks of conflict here, the corporal from a Midwestern city has emerged as the top sniper, with 24 confirmed kills. By comparison, the top Marine Corps sniper in Vietnam had 103 confirmed kills in 16 months.

"As a sniper your goal is to completely demoralize the enemy," said the corporal, who played football and ran track in high school and dreams of becoming a high school coach. "I couldn't have asked to be in a better place. I just got lucky: to be here at the right time and with the right training."

The military has asked that sniper names not be published. Insurgents were said to have put a bounty on Marine snipers. A website linked to the insurgents attempts to provide information on snipers and their families. During the Vietnam War, the Viet Cong also put a bounty on snipers.

"If you're going to be a sniper," said the corporal, "you just have to accept the things that come with it."

The corporal was a scout during last year's battle to topple Saddam Hussein's regime, helping a sniper find a target and align the shot. This year, he's the shooter, assigned to a scout partner. He remembers his first time as a sniper in action.

"The first time you get the adrenaline rush afterward," he said. "During the shooting, you have to take care of your breathing. It felt good to do my job, good to take a bad guy out."

Marine snipers, whose motto is "One shot, one kill," fire from rooftops in crowded urban areas of Fallouja, as well as explore the city by foot. It sometimes takes hours to set up a shot, as the sniper hides in the distance, waiting for the opportune moment.

The sniper rifle, a M-40A3, is a bolt-action model specially assembled at the Marine Corps armory in Quantico, Va. The scope magnifies to the 10th power. Some snipers give pet names to their rifle, taken from girlfriends or movie characters. The corporal, allowing himself a small laugh, has not.

"I guess it's the gun that cannot be named," he said. "It's been good to me. I take care of it and it takes care of me."

Marine officers credit the snipers, all of whom are enlisted men, with saving Marine lives by suppressing enemy fire and allowing their comrades greater freedom of movement.

"The snipers clear the streets for us," said Capt. Douglas Zembiec. "The snipers are true heroes."

Sniper teams have come under fire and suffered casualties. Marine intelligence suggests that the insurgents using Russian- and Chinese-made rifles and optics have their own sniper teams, but there have been no reports of Marines killed by sniper fire.

The corporal grew up fishing and hunting he killed his first deer at age 12, with a bow and arrow and remembers trips in the backwoods of Canada with his father, an academic. Not ready for college, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and gained a spot in the elite sniper school at Camp Pendleton. An uncle was a Marine sniper in Vietnam.

Unlike most Marines, the sniper sees his enemy before killing him. The enemy has a face.

Most combatants get only a glimpse of their enemies. The distance is too great, the spray of bullets too rapid.

But the sniper, with time to set up his shot, sees his victims more clearly through a powerful scope: their faces, their eyes, the weapons in their hands. And their expression when the bullet hits "their center mass."

"You have to have a combat mind-set," the corporal said.

Unlike other infantry troops, the sniper has greater confidence that his shot won't hit a civilian or a "friendly."

The corporal hopes to get back home by late fall, in time to take his girlfriend to a college football game and go deer hunting with his father.

"When I go hunting for whitetail, it's for food and sport," he said. "Here, when I go hunting, it's personal, very personal."

04-18-2004, 05:31 PM
This is only one half of the story.

I read in Scientific American a report about a equipment to detect snipers of the enemy. (Btw, it is amazing the way it detects the bullet already shot and its path back to the shooter.)

Some important military persons want it inmediately to be sended to Iraq. The scientifics haven't release the technology yet, cause it is not well proved and could cause fatalities not wanted.

Thus, they also have snipers, and also kill.

04-18-2004, 05:36 PM
"Sometimes a guy will go down, and I'll let him scream a bit to destroy the morale of his buddies," said the Marine corporal. "Then I'll use a second shot."
Let 'em whine for about an hour or so.

In negotiations aimed at ending the standoff in the city, the insurgents have demanded the Marines pull back their snipers.
Come on out and let's talk about it. Scum.

04-18-2004, 06:40 PM
Fallujah is realm of snipers on both sides

FALLUJAH, Iraq -- A black-garbed Iraqi gunman slinked over a rooftop and shimmied down a palm tree, pausing for a few seconds to grab a rifle from a comrade. A few blocks away, on another rooftop, a Marine sniper squeezed a trigger and shot the man in the leg. A second shot into his chest killed him, throwing his body out of the tree. The man became Sgt. Sean Crane's 11th kill in Fallujah.

The front lines in the siege of Fallujah are the realm of snipers, as riflemen on both sides of the fight seize the high points of the streetscape. The snipers have been operating even during an uneasy truce over the past week.

Lying flat-bellied on rooftops or leaning over rifles poking out of second-floor windows in darkened rooms, Marine snipers pick off gunmen darting across streets. And Iraqi riflemen fire at U.S. positions from buildings and mosque minarets.

Residents of Fallujah have lived in terror of the Marine snipers and have blamed them for civilian deaths, particularly during heavy fighting in the first week after the siege began April 5. Iraqis said it seemed that just stepping outside or looking out a window at the wrong time could draw sniper fire.

Haqi Ismail was shot dead by an American sniper just after leaving his house for prayers at a nearby mosque, said his cousin Ismail Hamada.

"His wife could not move forward to help him because she would have been killed too. She stood crying as he bled to death," Hamada told The Associated Press in Baghdad, where he fled with his family.

The Marine offensive to crush Sunni insurgents in this Euphrates River city has killed five Marines and more than 600 Iraqis, mostly civilians, according to hospital sources. The push was stopped on April 9 to allow for negotiations.

But Marines continue to defend their positions, responding to fire but also attacking to break up insurgent movements that could threaten them.

On a recent afternoon, a Marine anti-armor team fired a missile that clipped off the top of minaret where troops had spotted a muzzle flash.

Crane leads a squad of Marine snipers posted along a row of houses on the city's northern edge. "If the enemy is taking to the rooftops, you want to be on high ground, too," he said.

A mound of freshly turned earth in a dark alley below his post marked a shallow grave where he buried a gunman he shot in the street below.

Crane, 30, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and his team spend hours scanning streets and rooftops through powerful scopes that pick up body heat, outlining the shape of a figure in darkness.

Long shots, sometimes at distances of 1,000 yards, have to be finely adjusted to account for wind, temperature, barometric pressure and distortions from sunlight, shadows and waves of heat from the ground.

The calculations have to be split-second. Snipers sometimes guess wind speed, for example, by the movement of blowing trash.

One Marine rifleman missed an insurgent sniper - considered a No. 1 target - because of poor depth perception through a high-powered scope.

The Iraqi gunman was casually walking across a rooftop, and he slowly brought a Soviet-made sniper rifle up to aim as though he were a farmer readying to take a few shots from his back porch for fun, said Sgt. Ryan Warden, 28, who was watching the man's movements.

His partner fired twice but missed. "I wanted to end his life that day, but it didn't happen," said Warden, from Birmingham, Ala. "He had no idea we were on to him."

In Fallujah, Warden had his first confirmed kill. "I thought it would feel weird, but it didn't," he said.

"It probably changed me in some way, or made me appreciate life more," added Warden, who gave up a career as a model to re-enlist as a Marine Corps sniper - something his fellow riflemen tease him about.

A halt to the Marine offensive has created challenges for the team. Snipers prefer to change positions after a few shots to keep their posts secret so gunmen can't hone in on them. But now troops are prevented from advancing beyond the street that marks their front line.

That also means insurgents learn which streets to avoid.

"For the first few days, we were hitting five a day," Crane said. "The word is out. It's tapered off to ones and twos."

The longer a sniper stays put, another problem emerges: barking dogs and birds taking off at the sound of a shot can give away his position.

Before coming to Fallujah, Crane was posted in an open field in Iraq, where sheepherders would occasionally stumble upon him. Once, while aiming a rifle from a pile of rocks around his foxhole, he came face to face with the yellowish eye and wooly face of a sheep. He held still and the farmer, mumbling quietly to his flock just a few steps away, never saw him.

In Fallujah, Marine snipers set up rifles in front of small holes knocked out of walls with sledge hammers. Others hunker down at the corners of windows, where they've drawn shut curtains and positioned bookcases and other furniture to block light that might reveal their silhouette.

Iraqi gunmen are often hit in the early morning and early evening, as they travel to and from points of attack on U.S. forces. Some have done combat dive rolls across streets or hidden behind civilians to try to avoid being hit, Marines said.

During the first week of fighting, some residents reported seeing Marines firing from the tops of minarets, particularly that of al-Khulafaa Mosque in eastern Fallujah. A local cleric even issued a religious ruling allowing insurgents to shoot at minarets to down the Americans.

A 16-year-old living near al-Khulafaa, Mohannad Abdel-Rahman, went up on his roof and was shot in the head by a sniper, his relatives told AP. When his uncle went to retrieve his body, he too was killed, they said.

But Sgt. Warden says the last place he'd want to be is up in a minaret with no escape route, and as far as he knows, entering mosques is off limits for the Marine force.

"My lieutenant told me, 'I'd sure like to get you up in that mosque,'" Warden said. "But no way. If my position were located there, it would take forever to get down. With no escape route, you're screwed."

04-19-2004, 09:27 AM
Originally posted by: Chiwas
This is only one half of the story.

I read in Scientific American a report about a equipment to detect snipers of the enemy. (Btw, it is amazing the way it detects the bullet already shot and its path back to the shooter.)

Some important military persons want it inmediately to be sended to Iraq. The scientifics haven't release the technology yet, cause it is not well proved and could cause fatalities not wanted.

Thus, they also have snipers, and also kill.

It's true. But unfortunately for the Iraqi insurgents, they do not have imagery satellites in geosynchronous orbits flying over the battlefield that can detect a gunshot flare and report it's coordinates to a nearby artillery outfit. Nor do they have high flying predator drones armed with hellfire missles that can kill an offending sniper before he has a chance to reload.

Snipers come in multiple forms, you see.

http://images.google.com/images?q=tbn:Uy1GqGj9lKAJ:www.cnn.com/TECH/space/9804/29/crippled.satellite/satellite.lg.jpg http://images.google.com/images?q=tbn:i_7eLqlxyuQJ:arbredespossibles2.free. fr/Images/DronePredator.jpg