Infantry: July 15, 2002

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Over the last twenty years, there has been a growing enthusiasm for training more infantrymen as snipers. Part of this has to do with the presence of more career soldiers in the infantry. These men are better trained and more experienced than their conscript predecessors. Thus it is possible for a soldier with some talent, and enthusiasm, for shooting to become an effective sniper. It's long been recognized that having a few "marksmen" (expert shots) in each platoon pays off in combat. In addition to making the enemy operate more cautiously, one of the best antidotes  against an enemy sniper was a sniper of your own. Some epic "sniper duels" of World War I and II are still talked about by professional soldiers. And those two wars produced several dozen men (and a few women) who were credited with hundreds of confirmed kills. Commandos have always been given sniper training, and those that show exceptional talent at it become specialists in sniping. Commando units are often assigned assassination tasks, and a sniper is often the best way to do this. Many armies try to have at least one "marksman" per squad, and encourage these sharpshooters to improve their skills to that of an expert sniper. Along with the development of more troops as snipers has come an increase in the quality of sniping equipment. The U.S. M24 bolt action sniper rifle was introduced in 1988. It weighs about 14 pounds with scope and five round magazine. It has a 800 meter range and costs $3,500. It replaced the M21 (an early 1960s M14 upgraded for sniper work), which cost only about $600. In addition, the 1990s saw the introduction of 25-35 pound .50 (12.7mm) caliber sniping rifles. In theory, these are meant for attacks on enemy equipment (vehicles, missiles, radars and other electronic equipment), but they have also been used to kill enemy troops at ranges of 2,000 meters and more. Canadian snipers demonstrated this in Afghanistan in 2002. The Canadian army only has about 30 snipers, but they are very good. Most major armed forces maintain Sniper Schools, and the quality of their students is limited only by restrictions on how much time the graduates can spend practicing their shooting and field craft (remaining hidden while moving up to a firing position and once in position.) 

 


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