Infantry: September 27, 2003


Russian snipers have become a vital component in the Israeli army battle with Palestinian terrorists. About twenty percent of Israel's population are Russians, or the children of Russians who have migrated to Israel from the old Soviet Union in the last two decades. Many of these migrants are young men who arrive after having done their military service in the Russian army. Those that are under 28 years old still have to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) as well. Several of these Russians, and many more older ones, had attended Sniper School in Russia. The Russians recognized sniping as a powerful battlefield tool during World War II, and went on to establish a network of sniper schools. Some of the courses lasted as long as a year, and snipers have proved to be among the most effective Russian troops in the Chechen fighting. Israel uses snipers as well, but their sniper course lasts only five weeks. But many more older Russian migrants, who did not have to serve in the IDF,  had extensive military training, including some who worked as snipers. So last year, a movement arose in the Israeli Russian community to volunteer for military service. Thus was formed the Aliya (Jewish migrant) Brigade. The 800 members of the unit mostly pull guard duty. But some with special skills, like the snipers, serve with army units in the West Bank and Gaza. The main weapon the Russians trained on, the 7.62mm x54 SVD sniper rifle, was close enough to the Israeli weapon (a 7.62mm x51 Galil sniper rifle) to make transition relatively painless. The Galil is a heavier weapon (17.6 pounds versus 9.7 for the SVD), but is about the same size. The Galil has a larger selection of day and night sightes. The Israelis also use other sniper rifles, especially the .50 caliber (12.7mm) models. These require more training as well. But the Russian trained snipers, especially those who had served in Chechnya, had the basics down and, more importantly, experience in a very deadly combat zone. The IDF makes wide use of snipers for defensive purposes. For example, at night, sniper teams are deployed with night vision devices and take down anyone seen sneaking around and carrying an AK-47.


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