Fort Benning, Georgia is the home of the US Army International Best Sniper competition, April 12-15. US military teams from all over the globe competed for the chance to be called the “best sniper,” and learn from some of the most accomplished snipers in the US military. But it wasn’t a “walk in the park.” It’s a tough competition. The competition for “Best Ranger”- and begins on Friday.
The top team will be identified only after all teams have been assessed through a gauntlet of rigorous physical, mental and technical events testing a range of sniper skills including, but not limited to, long range marksmanship, observation, reconnaissance and reporting abilities, and abilities to move with stealth and concealment.
Twenty-six teams of two snipers each competed at Fort Benning this week. One qualified team couldn’t come because of a positive Covid test. Other teams had to navigate paperwork, Covid tests, and dragging their sniper rifles with them for long flights on commercial airplanes. But this year’s competition was geared toward peer-to-peer battles based on the Pentagon’s pivot to different foes. Last year’s competition was cancelled because of Covid, so the teams were eager to participate this year.
The first surprise for sniper competitors came early in the competition, said Sgt. 1st Class Zachary Small, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the contest. Competitors in the very first stage, which kicked off at 4 a.m. Monday, had to maneuver a land navigation course as patrols of simulated enemies and small drones searched for them…
“We like to try and start off with a reality check,” Small said. “So here we’re taking an approach to this competition as what you could see in that next fight — that near-peer threat fight. That challenges the competitors to think outside the box and creates realism in the scenario in the best way that we could without having an actual enemy for searching for them.”
…“You’ve got guys in this competition that are inexperienced, brand new right out of the Sniper course who are coming into this with the institutional knowledge of the latest information from the school, and guys who are very experienced operators, who’ve been out in a combat operational environment a ton over the last 10 years or more.”
The Coast Guard team this year showed their concealment creativity by putting up a “cardboard port-a-john on the pier.” According to the Business Insider, the Coast Guard sniper team has won over the storied Marine snipers for the last couple of years. (ouch…c’mon, really?).
Each branch of the United States Armed Forces has their own elite troop, proficient in using a sniper rifle — and the Coast Guard is no different. Surprised? You’re not alone. One of the only times troops sing their praises is when they “come out of nowhere” and beat most branches’ snipers in competition, year after year…
…The Coast Guard equivalent to special operations is the Maritime Security Response Team, or MSRT. They’re the front line troops shouldering the burden of the War on Drugs. And they’re not just busting college frat boys who’re smoking a bit of weed on their daddy’s yacht either. These guys are constantly going toe-to-toe with some of the deadliest cartels in the world. These are the guys that are bringing billion-dollar criminal enterprises to their knees….
…Snipers across the Department of Defense focus their training on several factors, depending on the role they play. A Marine recon sniper, for example, must train in camouflaging themselves and moving without being seen — often through miles of difficult terrain for weeks at a time. Coast Guard snipers don’t worry about because that’s not in their area of operations — there’s no hiding on the open ocean.
The competition finished off on Wednesday evening, with the win going to the Special Forces Sniper Course Team, according to the US Army at Fort Benning. They and the USCG teams were among the top five in the competition.
Standings update! As of now, the top five teams are: Colorado @NationalGuard, 3-75 Ranger Regiment, @USCG, Special Forces Sniper Course and 19th Special Forces Group. The race is so close! Who do you think will win?
April 14, Fort Benning
All in all, inspite of the humor and kidding between teams, they all learned something from each other that will hopefully prove valuable in the battles ahead.
Featured photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Clinton Scanlon, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, fires an M107 sniper rifle during the 2018 International Sniper Competition at Burroughs Range on Fort Benning, Georgia, Oct. 17, 2018. The competitors occupied a defensive position to engage dismounted, moving targets during the exercise. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michelle U. Blesam)
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Author: Faye Higbee
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