This book is a wide ranging study of the training, equipment and uses of the sniper in the recent wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, the insurgencies that followed and on domestic anti-terrorism and policing duties. We start with a history of the modern sniper, from the earlier developments during the American War of Independence, through to the appearance of recognisably modern sniper tactics in the Boer War and their development during the two world wars. Next comes a look at the role, equipment and training of the modern sniper. This section also reveals just how many different organisations actually field snipers these days, especially in the United States, where the proliferation of special forces units and the existence of two overlapping ground forces – the Army and Marines – means that there are several different groups of Special Forces snipers. Most armies now also include marksmen in their infantry units, to provide some long range firepower. There are also a range of police and counter-terrorist units across the world, many of which include snipers in their line-up. As a result there is also quite a market for sniper rifles. There is a great deal of material on the individual weapons, looking at how they differ, which roles each are best suited for etc. It is clear that some of this is down to individual preference, with several of the author’s sources having their favourite weapons, but I was surprised by just how many different models were current in use, and how many different weapons an individual sniper might require, depending on local conditions and the expected range to his target.
The next four chapters look at the four main uses of the sniper in the last couple of decades. First are the two invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, overlapping conflicts that posed surprisingly different problems for the snipers. In Afghanistan the problem was often a lack of cover and long distances to their target, whereas in Iraq combat was often at much shorter range, cover was often plentiful, but the chances of being discovered in the more densely populated areas much higher. We then look at the long running insurgency against the Western forces and Iraqi government, where once again snipers had to modify their tactics. The final operational chapter looks at the very varied tasks of counter-terrorist and police snipers, operating in a very different, none military environment.
The author obviously knows his material very well, and is in touch with the most recent developments (the text was clearly being updated quite close to publication, with several mentions of new developments as the book was ‘going to press’). He has discussed this subject with an impressive array of current and recent snipers from all around the world. Although not a sniper himself, he clearly has good contacts in that world, which gives the book a more realistic, personal feel than some on similar topics. One minor quibble is that the author shies away from the current controversies over shoots of innocent civilians by US SWAT teams, but otherwise this is an interesting study of one of the famous elements of the modern military.
1 - The Modern History of Sniping
2 - The Modern Sniper
3 - Sniping in Afghanistan
4 - Sniping in Iraq
5 - Snipers of the Insurgency
6 - Police and Counterterrorism Sniping
7 - Modern Sniper Rifles
1 - An Interview with a Special Operations Sniper
2 - References
Author: Leigh Neville