Infantry: December 25, 2003


Driven by the need for more trained snipers, the 101st Airborne Division has set up a sniper school in northern Iraq. Bringing instructors over from the United States, where sniper training involves 398.5 hours of instruction during an intense five week course. The Iraq course is only three weeks long, but with the same number of hours. This is possible because troops in Iraq are accustomed to less time off and more stress. It's a grueling course of instruction, which not only teaches skills, but also tests the students on their ability to handle the stress of being a combat sniper. The stateside course usually has a pass rate of 60-80 percent. But the 19 students who went through the first Iraq based course had an 89 percent graduation rate (17 out of 19). Snipers have proved extremely useful during raids and ambushes of Iraqi militants. Snipers with night vision equipment are particularly demoralizing to the Iraqis, at least according to those who have been captured. The American snipers add a large degree of uncertainty for the Iraqis, who conduct many of their operations at night.


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