Some say the problem isn’t the rifle, it’s the snipers....

TheWookie

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I found this article very interesting, especially the comments made about the current marksmanship abilities of today's Marine sniper. I respect the Gunner's opinion, and I'm sure he's got a bag full of stats to back up his criticism, but if wonder if it's the Marine sniper's problem -- or a larger problem within the Marine Corps of not having enough trained snipers that are getting the right kind of training? And, the time to do it?


102609mc_rifle_800.jpg


Marine combat developers are eyeing a new sniper rifle that would almost double the range of the Corps’ existing model, but the service’s weapons experts don’t want it and believe fielding something more powerful could exacerbate existing problems with marksmanship.

The SR21 should not be adopted unless existing problems with sniper training are addressed, said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jeffrey Eby, the Corps’ senior gunner. The new rifle would offer a “significant capability,” but the gunner community is concerned that adopting it would put even more pressure on snipers already struggling to satisfactorily use existing 7.62mm M40 rifles, he said in an e-mail to Marine Corps Times.

Marine Corps Combat Development Command, based at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., is considering the SR21 and, along with the Army and U.S. Special Operations Command, developing caliber requirements and other specifications for the weapon, said Charles Clark III, an infantry weapons capabilities integration officer at MCCDC. The weapon would be an option for engaging targets out to 1,500 meters (almost one mile), a weakness Marine officials identified in a 2007 assessment of the sniper community. The M40’s maximum effective range is about 800 meters.

There are several reasons, Eby said, why snipers are not as good as they should be with the M40, a bolt-action rifle that was introduced to the Corps in 1966 and is based on a commercial model, the Remington 700.

First, the Corps lacks enough training facilities with “realistic targets,” which hinders efforts to adequately replicate combat scenarios, he said. Moreover, many snipers don’t get enough time to fully develop their skills on the M40, and the Corps is struggling to retain them long enough to perfect the craft, he said.

“Until we resolve the training and personnel problem, we do not support exacerbating the problem by increasing the training challenges associated with extending the range and switching the weapon for the Marine sniper,” Eby said.

Performance statistics were not immediately available, but MCCDC considers training “the cornerstone of rifle marksmanship” and the gunner community central to that training, said 2nd Lt. Brian Villiard, a spokesman for MCCDC. The command is still considering options to meet the 1,500-meter need and has not yet sent desired guidelines to acquisitions officials at Marine Corps Systems Command, he said.

Marine officials declined to provide specifics about the SR21, but a rifle by that name is sold commercially by Heym USA, a gun maker based in Dallas. A company official said he does not know if the Corps is indeed interested in its SR21, but noted that the weapon is available with a sniper configuration. An online catalog says Heym’s rifle can be chambered for the .300 and .338 Winchester Magnum rounds, both of which are common in longer-range sniper rifles.

The SR21’s development coincides with Army efforts to assess its options for engaging targets beyond 800 meters. In August, the service gave gun makers notice that it wants to see proposals for a modified M24 sniper rifle chambered for .300 Win Mag rounds. The M24 has many similarities to the M40, but is not fielded by the Corps.

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2009/10/marine_rifle_102609w/
 

KBar666

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This to me contradicts other general knowledge.
It was always my understanding that the Corp had a rep for having some of the best shooters around.

I know Sniping is really much the individual. I'm just saying every source I've ever heard said the Marines have great snipers.

Plus hell didn't they just win the comp. That skill didn't come from sitting around with a barrell up your ass.
 

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This to me contradicts other general knowledge.
It was always my understanding that the Corp had a rep for having some of the best shooters around.

I know Sniping is really much the individual. I'm just saying every source I've ever heard said the Marines have great snipers.

Plus hell didn't they just win the comp. That skill didn't come from sitting around with a barrell up your ass.

The GWOT has exposesed some serious weakness in the US Army & USMC marksmanship programs. As for BRM and basic sniper training, hands down the USMC has the better programs. However, the programs are training Soldiers & Marines to shoot at targets that don’t move. They are teaching Soldiers & Marines to fire from standard position, instead of training to shoot from any position. The USMC combat lessons learned did an outstanding report on this back in 2005-2006,explaining how Marines had the right rifles and equipment but were not trained to use it at its full potential.

I may be mistaken but I thought that is what this CPT was trying to convey in this article. I strongly agree with it and hope that before they start rolling out any new toys for the US Army or USMC they change the training doctrine and spend the money where its most needed. :2c:
 
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7point62

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The Marines produce the best riflemen in the world. Our snipers are among the best of the best. But it might be time to consider training them on a rifle that can meet current needs.
 

Teufel

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I don't know. I know my guys would have loved to have a rifle that could range 1500 other than the SASR. My guys were humping that rifle everywhere and getting kills from 850 to 1400 on multiple static and moving targets. PS a team from SOI just won the international sniper competition so we must be doing something right.
 

KBar666

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Edit: nevermind google knows all.

Also I said the same thing about the competition.
 

SoloKing

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Free floating .338, intergrated rail system, fully adjustable telescoping rear end, 2.5lbs pull on the trigger, internal 5 round top loading mag, Schmit and Bender 5X25 Horus vision retical on the first focal plane, harris bi pods and last but not least suppressed..................Anything and I mean ANYTHING less and the Marine Corp is fucking up.

The good Gunner is correct about training improvements, but not needing a bigger bolt gun................I would do Thunder Dome with the Gunner or any other Marine of any rank over this issue. It breaks my fucking heart that the Corps leadership can't or wont listen to the guys who are daily behind the scope risking their lives. No disrepect to the Gunner, he is a great Marine and spent a life time doing this job, but I sill disagree and passionatly so on this point.
 

JBS

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First, the Corps lacks enough training facilities with “realistic targets,” which hinders efforts to adequately replicate combat scenarios, he said. Moreover, many snipers don’t get enough time to fully develop their skills on the M40, and the Corps is struggling to retain them long enough to perfect the craft, he said.
Can I mention the elephant in the room?

Like it or not the Corps doctrine of circulating and rotating highly specialized Marines into the FMF has everything to do with this situation, as well as many others, including retention.

I think the solution to this- as well as other related issues (SOF) is going to involve rethinking how Marines are shuffled throughout the Corps after spending time at XYZ unit.

Snipers -like other specialized Marines- know that they might spend time at a high-speed-low-drag unit and then end up somewhere else entirely, doing a job that no longer requires them to maintain the cutting edge skill they originally developed. Although the practice of shuffling highly trained Marines deep into the "deck of cards" has its benefits, there are some who argue about its drawbacks.

This article highlights some of the drawbacks in my opinion.


...the Corps wouldn't keep us in a SS billet, so we all got out. I would have much rather had money for more schools and ammo than a new rifle.

Happens not only to Snipers, but other specialized Marines as well. Some of that shuffling is good for the Corps, but the negative side of that practice has to be considered as well.
 

TheWookie

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I would have much rather had money for more schools and ammo than a new rifle.

Exactly, and what JBS said. My observation from afar is to stop rotating the best talent out of the STA platoons,, and give them more schools and training and they might stick around. :2c:
 

JBS

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I will say this, in defense of the "shuffling-the-deck" doctrines: Moving that Ace of Spades Marine to another unit definitely has its benefits to the RECEIVING unit, wherever he arrives- if he is given the opportunity to transfer some of his knowledge and skills to the unit that is receiving him. For a Sniper or Reconaissance Marine, that might be land navigation, additional marksmanship coaching, or fieldcraft, or even physical fitness best practices and work ethic.

The key is somehow allowing that Marine the opportunity to actually demonstrate and pass on some of his skills to the grunts/XYZ unit he is joining up with, so he is maintaining those skills through self study and preparation. Not only with that individual stay reasonably current on the subject matter, but the unit that received him will benefit greatly.
 

TheWookie

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I will say this, in defense of the "shuffling-the-deck" doctrines: Moving that Ace of Spades Marine to another unit definitely has its benefits to the RECEIVING unit, wherever he arrives- if he is given the opportunity to transfer some of his knowledge and skills to the unit that is receiving him. For a Sniper or Reconaissance Marine, that might be land navigation, additional marksmanship coaching, or fieldcraft, or even physical fitness best practices and work ethic.

The key is somehow allowing that Marine the opportunity to actually demonstrate and pass on some of his skills to the grunts/XYZ unit he is joining up with, so he is maintaining those skills through self study and preparation. Not only with that individual stay reasonably current on the subject matter, but the unit that received him will benefit greatly.

I used to think this, but now I lean more towards the flip-side -- what happens when the Ace of Spades Marine leaves the unit? The fleet benefits but the SOC units suffer. That's IF, they go back to the fleet - most of em get out, I assume. They need to keep the talented and trained ones in-house to mentor the young guys. Screw sending them to the regular grunts every three or four years -- wait until they are senior SNCO's. Then they can spread their knowledge from there.

I think if they do this STA bubbas will stick around longer, too. :2c:

And I think regular grunts do just fine without former sun tan association member's coming back to the regular grunts to bother them. :D
 

JBS

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I used to think this, but now I lean more towards the flip-side -- what happens when the Ace of Spades Marine leaves the unit? The fleet benefits but the SOC units suffer. That's IF, they go back to the fleet - most of em get out, I assume. They need to keep the talented and trained ones in-house to mentor the young guys. Screw sending them to the regular grunts every three or four years -- wait until they are senior SNCO's. Then they can spread their knowledge from there.

I think if they do this STA bubbas will stick around longer, too. :2c:

And I think regular grunts do just fine without former sun tan association member's coming back to the regular grunts to bother them. :D

I can see both ends of the argument. I just think it is a thorny issue that needs to be dealt with somehow.
 

Teufel

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Can I mention the elephant in the room?

Like it or not the Corps doctrine of circulating and rotating highly specialized Marines into the FMF has everything to do with this situation, as well as many others, including retention.

I think the solution to this- as well as other related issues (SOF) is going to involve rethinking how Marines are shuffled throughout the Corps after spending time at XYZ unit.

Most school trained snipers nowadays don't really risk getting "shuffled" until they are SSgts and GySgts because of the small number of billets for a 0317 SSgt in the SS platoon. Right now no specialized Marines are being shuffled or rotated into the fleet. People are talking about it, but it hasn't happened yet. It used to happen with recon and snipers but those problems have largely been taken care of. MARSOC is supposed to go that route but we will see if that happens or not.
 

JBS

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Most school trained snipers nowadays don't really risk getting "shuffled" until they are SSgts and GySgts because of the small number of billets for a 0317 SSgt in the SS platoon. Right now no specialized Marines are being shuffled or rotated into the fleet. People are talking about it, but it hasn't happened yet. It used to happen with recon and snipers but those problems have largely been taken care of. MARSOC is supposed to go that route but we will see if that happens or not.

I would be glad if this issue went away entirely, as I'm sure most others would be.

I just know this has been talked about for (at the very least) 15-20 years.

I can see the benefit of moving a SNCO into the grunts from an SOF unit, provided he is given the platform to diffuse his knowledge (and maybe even an incentive?). If that is what is happening, then my view is they are (finally) on the right track!
 

Teufel

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Don't get me wrong - I'm all for getting the latest and greatest gear; but getting a new gee whiz rifle without increasing range time and ammo allocations and improving training facilities is not the right answer.

I'm sure things have changed since I left the SS plt - but we were hitting the range once a month if we were lucky. 90% of our guys were school trained, but aside from a handfull of urban sniper slots, we couldn't get any follow-on training. After three years, we were all gone - the Corps wouldn't keep us in a SS billet, so we all got out. I would have much rather had money for more schools and ammo than a new rifle.

Honestly right now the shortfall is ammo not money- for whatever reason. Guys are going to McMillan, Todd Hartnett, Blackwater, you name it, they're getting the advanced training and sustainment. Life is good under the GWOT. If a unit isn't training like that, it's a problem with that unit not the Marine Corps.

We are getting tons of rifles too, we got the $40,000 Darpa, the DMR, the SASR, Mk11, Mk12, and they just updated the M40 to the A4. The problem is that none of these rifles can range past a grand aside from the heavy ass SASR which isn't even a sniper rifle. The 7.62 crowd is great for shooting targets in Fallujah, but falls short in some of the long distance engagements in Afghanistan.
 
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7point62

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Free floating .338, intergrated rail system, fully adjustable telescoping rear end, 2.5lbs pull on the trigger, internal 5 round top loading mag, Schmit and Bender 5X25 Horus vision retical on the first focal plane, harris bi pods and last but not least suppressed..................Anything and I mean ANYTHING less and the Marine Corp is fucking up.


x2 re .338 and all of the above. But maybe not the Heym.

I don't think the Corps should rotate any 0317s thru 0326's back into the Fleet unless as instructors. Seems like a waste of talent, not to mention the investment that went into their training.

I had an E5 bud who was 8652 (now 0323) at 2/6 and I didn't learn a thing from him...except maybe projectile vomiting. :cool:
 

JimMCpog

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Free floating .338, intergrated rail system, fully adjustable telescoping rear end, 2.5lbs pull on the trigger, internal 5 round top loading mag, Schmit and Bender 5X25 Horus vision retical on the first focal plane, harris bi pods and last but not least suppressed..................Anything and I mean ANYTHING less and the Marine Corp is fucking up.

The good Gunner is correct about training improvements, but not needing a bigger bolt gun................I would do Thunder Dome with the Gunner or any other Marine of any rank over this issue. It breaks my fucking heart that the Corps leadership can't or wont listen to the guys who are daily behind the scope risking their lives. No disrepect to the Gunner, he is a great Marine and spent a life time doing this job, but I sill disagree and passionatly so on this point.

Maybe he's using this as a provocative way to highlight this problem? I'm sure he'd love to get this weapon as much as you would, but he's probably been stewing over this problem for years and is now seizing an excellent opportunity to "force the hand" of HQMC as much as it can be forced anyway...


If I really, really wanted this weapon (or even knew how to utilize it, as I do not) I would be lobbying/writing/hounding Congressman Jones to get more money for sniper training and facilities on Camp Lejeune and his counterpart in Cali (possibly Jane Harmon??) and why it's neccessary.
 

JimMCpog

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I will say this, in defense of the "shuffling-the-deck" doctrines: Moving that Ace of Spades Marine to another unit definitely has its benefits to the RECEIVING unit, wherever he arrives- if he is given the opportunity to transfer some of his knowledge and skills to the unit that is receiving him. For a Sniper or Reconaissance Marine, that might be land navigation, additional marksmanship coaching, or fieldcraft, or even physical fitness best practices and work ethic.

The key is somehow allowing that Marine the opportunity to actually demonstrate and pass on some of his skills to the grunts/XYZ unit he is joining up with, so he is maintaining those skills through self study and preparation. Not only with that individual stay reasonably current on the subject matter, but the unit that received him will benefit greatly.

I wonder if the Marine Corps uses retired Snipers as primary instructors in it's precision shooting courses, and if not, would this alleviate the problem?
 

RetPara

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This REALLY sounds like the debates in the Army before the creation of the SF 18 Series of MOS's in the 80's. In the mid-term MARSOC units will alleviate some of the issues. But the Corps is a small organization in comparison to the Army. Historically the Corps has had internal prejudices against internal elite units or specialties (ParaMarines, Raiders, and until lately Recon).

The Corps has been bringing in the cream of the recruit pool for generations, but often lose them early. The sniper retention issue is a symptom of this.

So the real long term solution is going to probably be an adjustment in Corps personnel policies and doctrine. The Corps is going to need to realize that the some of the meat market personnel policies that currently in place. There are going to have to be more specialties that are individually managed (snipers) through their entire career. This means that some cross assignments will be needed to the regular FMF but in specialized billets. Staff NCO billets are going to have to be coded to reserve them for specific specialties. In reality the whole transformation of the Corps personnel system would be an incredible Thesis, if not a Dissertation topic. I'm not talking about some kind of cookie cutter copy of an Army policy, but the type of innovative and original change the Corps has done time and again.
 

Rogers0317

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What they should do is start off by passing the new T/O that has been proposed. This has some SSgt Team Leaders and Gunny section leaders. I don't know of any sniper platoons that have the guys to meet the new proposed T/Os. Maybe it would force the monitors to have to track 0317 mos in order to properly man those spots, as well as keep 0317s from getting recruiting orders. It might also force them to offer an 0317 bonus to help with retention.

If you think about it, when an 0317 picks up Sgt, he pretty much gets out, or moves over to Recon or MARSOC in order to avoid getting sucked into a b billet. Thats the major problem in my opinion. Of course some guys would still move to Recon or MARSOC regardless, but there are PLENTY of us who would rather stay in an infantry battalion and keep working as Scout Snipers. Obviously the longer the USMC retains us, the more skill/experience we will be able to bring to the table.

There are alot of positive things going on in the community. The new Team Leaders Course is outstanding and I bet you would be hard pressed to find a better sniper course in the military or even on the civilian side. The big problem is simply keeping 0317s in the community. If the USMC can solve that, they can definitely solve alot.
 
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