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Sniper FTX Summary

Sniper FTX Summary


6 November 2000 By Jeff Waters Introduction Tasks Trained Critique

Introduction
evaluations. Of course you should use varying missions, but I found that when you get a few executed, or by changing the Situation briefing. My goals in planning an FTX were as follows: The following is a summary of a standard FTX scenario I used for internal and external

scenarios drawn up, you can re-use them a lot, simply by changing the terrain on which they are

1. Gain a clear understanding of whether a team is ready for combat. 2. Learn what strengths and weaknesses are present in team proficiency 3. Covertly train the officer core and chain of command on sniper employment (they were e.g., sat back and watched; they came out with a much better understanding of sniper 4. Build confidence, pride and teamwork in both the snipers and chain of command. Task List) etc. employment and capabilities)

never receptive to receiving formal training from an NCO, but when they "oversaw" the FTX,

5. Document and record the teams' performance according to the FM, METL (Mission Essential 6. Allow the teams an opportunity to run a mission from beginning to end with no interruptions 7. Provide a real "Gut Check." so they get a clear idea of the big picture.

Tasks Trained:
Invariably, I used the following tasks to focus the scenario.

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Sniper FTX Summary

ALERT Conduct Troop Leading Procedures Conduct Insertion Move Tactically

Occupy an FFP (final firing position) Perform Surveillance Engage a Target Gather/Report Intelligence Evade and Escape Conduct Extraction Debrief

each heading. In the planning phase, all team members were evaluated regardless of rank, since in such a small unit, everyone must be able to plan missions. The beginning part was conducted at the squad level, with the individual teams breaking off

That's the plan in a nutshell, obviously there are several sub-tasks that are evaluated under

either before or just after insertion.

In more detail, it went something like this:

ALERT:
Based on current events, the team was given a thorough Situation and Mission briefing after being placed in isolation (a secure environment). Every effort was made to produce an excellent briefing based on a realistic future threat.

Conduct Troop Leading Procedures:


Every man in the squad would be heavily involved in the planning, either writing paragraphs 4 and 5 (service and support and command and signal), making the sand tables or prepping gear. The leader must do the execution paragraph himself. I would act as the unit's FSO (Fire support officer), CESO (Commo officer) and S-2 (Intel The squad leader, or acting squad leader, would give a Warning Order and Operations Order.

officer) for the leader's coordinations. Coordinating with the above was graded. The Ranger Handbook has a good coordination checklist for this task.

particularly those unique to the sniper's equipment. Examples are did they put black electrical
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OPSEC was a graded task here as well as throughout as well as Pre-Combat checks;

Sniper FTX Summary

tape over the muzzle of the rifle, did they check their data books and note taking material, and did they check their optics and so on. Additional attention was given to the Fire Support Plan, since it is part of the Sniper's Mission

and generally the only form of friend help nearby. The MEDEVAC and COMMO plans were also closely scrutinized due to the nature of the mission.

Conduct Insertion:
I always tried to use a wide variety of techniques. Helicopters are NOT a great way for a team to go in due to OPSEC, and the principal was to use whatever method was common to the area and would not arouse attention.

assaults or rappels, waterborne techniques, civilian vehicles such as vans or a military blazer which was painted dull black with tinted windows (this was an authorized vehicle, I am not suggesting you paint your units vehicle like that for the obvious reasons), skis, and whatever else seemed reasonable.

Although helicopters are sometimes the only practical way, we used long foot movements, cliff

A good sniper works his mind and doesn't restrict his thinking to solely what's in the manual. Neither does he march off into fantasyland. Using Departure of the FFU (Friendly Forward Unit) is an excellent task to incorporate here. I

again would act as the FFU CDR for the purposes of coordinating the departure, which was graded.

Move Tactically:
This never just started with a stalk. It always included a long movement at night to get everyone sleep deprived and physically tired. Remember what I said about covertly training the officers or other leadership? I always found that lots of staff pogues would leap at the chance to

"evaluate the snipers." It was always a moral boost for the men to watch them suffer through the nastiest, longest, hardest route we could find. In this manner, we scared off a lot of strap-hanging wannabe pogues. On the more positive side, we liked to have the S-2 come along, since the snipers should have

a strong relationship with him due to their mission.

Navigation, stealth, noise, light, litter and camo discipline, counter-tracking SOP's and route selection were all evaluated here, in addition to the basic movement techniques. Uniform for this
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Sniper FTX Summary

should generally NOT be a ghillie suit. They would always be expected to avoid patrols and danger areas. They should also use OPSKEDS (code words) to report their progress and to alert the FSO and

chain of command as to their location at pre-designated checkpoints. A good FSO will have his guns shift to the next TRP covering the current portion of the team's route upon receiving the your route anyway) as long as this was planned and coordinated. This is crucial upon code word (that's easy to plan, since you call in a code word at designated check points during approaching/occupying the FFP. At this point, the mortar maggots need to be on their toes. Normally, they would occupy a Patrol Base and be evaluated on this also. They should obviously stay off of key terrain and natural lines of drift. The final part of the movement would be a stalk into their FFP. This would be on a live fire

range that had OPFOR (opposing force) personal watching for them. Prior to the stalk, the firing range.

evaluator would move away from the snipers and onto the objective, which was located on the

By that, I mean a huge suit with burlap a foot thick. That type of suit is not practical for a number of reasons. It takes up too much space in a rucksack, is too hot, snags on everything leaving a the suit with natural camo. A light suit with a well done boonie cap and veil is much more shoulders. That is the part of your body, which is normally exposed. trail if you have to run away and slowing you down. Neither does it leave much space to garnish important. The cap is light, small and covers the most important parts of the sniper, his head and

This was a learning point for a lot of snipers who have the 'abominable snow man' type ghillie.

Occupying the FFP:


A lot of this evaluation is simply whether they are observed or not by the OPFOR. However, the FFP's should be walked by the evaluators AFTER the contact is completed and the OPFOR are pursuing the teams and examined for the standard stuff; natural cover and concealment, field of fire and ESCAPE ROUTES!

One of the most often overlooked training points in fieldcraft is that after you complete a stalk and take your shot, you better have a damn good way to get the hell out of there via multiple chase you (Remember what I said about the "Abominable' ghillie suit here). routes. Its easy to throw a rock at a beehive, but remember, they are going to be pissed and

Perform Surveillance:
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Sniper FTX Summary

First, let me explain what I had on the objective. There was a mock signal, missile or other enemy site with the OPFOR bearing foreign uniforms and weapons. They were given optics to the objective. attempt to locate the snipers but were never given the times or locations where they would be on

Scatted around the mock site is one Iron Maiden per sniper team at ranges varying from 600-900 meters. I put old DX'd uniforms over the targets and the effect is very good particularly in the morning/evening. (Or BMNT and EENT for the really devoted).

avenues of approach, cover/concealment, obstacles and key terrain) as well as any other specifics tasked such as good support and assault positions for a follow on assault etc. After a few hours of observation, and 15 minutes prior to hit time, I would call off the OPFOR.

The priority information requirements are SALUTE and OACOK (observation and fields of fire,

After gaining 100% accountability, I would give a code word to the teams and they would chamber a live round.

withdrawing. All teams will call in a code word confirming their weapons are clear and the OPFOR will pursue. Due to safety factors, and the mission, the teams will not fire on the OPFOR.

The mission leader would then conduct a simultaneous fire mission on all the targets and begin

Evade and Escape:


covered at all. It concerns me greatly that our doctrine does not incorporate this as an integral part of each stalk. It is also fair play for the teams to employ booby traps near their FFP's or along their escape This reinforces the crucial event of getting out of the objective area, which is so often not

routes to slow down their pursuers. In real life, a claymore mine with time fuse is an excellent

tool to break contact or simply disorient them from your actual position and add to the confusion. You can remove the fuses from grenades and insert a cap with time fuse and tape a coat hanger screen your withdrawal if you are under pressure and slow people down. Don't try these at home unless you're qualified to do it. hook around them to leave them hanging in trees behind you also. White phosphorous will always

anticipate the enemy's moves according to their tactics and doctrine and have standby at the objective.

The leader should be evaluated as to his plan for breaking contact after initiating. He should

countermeasures ready. There should also be a target reference point with indirect fire on

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Sniper FTX Summary

Basic concepts like never withdrawing straight towards your actual objective should be observed, as well as counter-tracking and ambush techniques such as doubling back on your path and overwatching your trail once the teams are reasonably clear of the objective.

successfully and think its all over. We often mistakenly reinforce this by stopping the evaluation right after actions on the objective and doing the AAR right there. The fact is that after showing his hand, the sniper is in a dangerous situation, and we should

This is also an overlooked part of training. The danger here is that people hit the target

really focus on ensuring that they are trained well in dealing with this time. Reaction forces from the OPFOR should pursue and a plan for dealing with the team as a POW included if they are is for their own good. captured. If they are captured, they do not pass the evaluation, regardless of the shooting. This

Extraction:
incorporated. There are good tools for a sniper team like the STABO rig or SPIES that are ideally suited to them. Extraction is like insertion, in that as many different ways that can be used should be

in every evaluation/stx. It's not to screw with them, just to prepare them. Having the helicopters the teams. Does the leader immediately resort to an alternate plan? Or does the discipline of the team erode and bad attitudes flare. Remember that sleep/chow deprivation should be factored into the evaluation.

It should not be a cakewalk. They should come to expect the worst and prepare for problems

fly away as they come running out to load them is a good check on the leadership and discipline of

they issue an inbound advisory and so on. Did they maintain good security, stealth etc., or did it erode.

On the other hand, they can also be evaluated on how they deal with the helicopters, i.e., did

Debrief:
debriefing. There should be a room or site in the field set up with a map for them to use and they his representative should be present and ask questions after the presentation is finished. Immediately upon return, the teams are given a short amount of time to prepare for a

should conduct the debriefing according to the standard NATO format. The S-2 and commander or

never speculate or state anything but the facts, until they are asked their opinions.
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The evaluators should focus on the accuracy of the information and quality. The teams should

Sniper FTX Summary

The best way to conduct the debriefing is with the team leader talking through the mission from insertion to extraction according to the format, detailing information on the terrain, map corrections etc. on the way in to the objective as well as the information gathered at the objective. The sketches, logs etc., will be turned in at the beginning to the S-2.

Critique:
This should take place right after the debrief, unless the teams are too tired to stay awake. If that's the case, they should stand down so they can be alert for the evaluation. There is an entire list of tasks listed in the ARTEP manual for Scout/Snipers by the way. It is best for the evaluators to meet before the critique in order to avoid contradicting opinions

in front of the men and the unit commander should be briefed on the results as soon as possible. The underlying principal of the evaluation and closing comment should be based on the

question "Is this team ready for combat?"

on the back by the evaluation team and unit commander. Back to Training

It never hurts to have a couple of cold beers waiting on them after a job well done and a pat

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