News: Scout snipers lead from the front
Story by Lance Cpl. Emmanuel Ramos
QUANTICO, Va. - Five Marines and two soldiers in the Scout Snipers Team Leaders Course tested their mental and physical capabilities of being a team leader during an intensive weeklong exercise, April 23- 28, at Weapons Training Battalion.
“We’re looking to see how confident they are when briefing their missions and how they carry it out,” said an instructor in the class. “This is continuous and they only get about three hours of sleep each day. Once one mission is done, they immediately start another one. It really puts a toll on the students.”
Each of the students will have his turn at briefing a mission and leading his team.
Once the team leader has developed a scheme of maneuver, he builds a scaled terrain model so his team can see every step of their mission.
“Building the terrain model is one of the hardest things to do,” said one of the course participants. “You have to account for every detail of the area where you’re going to be conducting your mission. Luckily I had about four guys help me build it and it only took us about two hours.”
Following each team leader’s brief, instructors evaluate his plan and his mission brief. The instructors credit one of this course’s participants with giving one of the best briefs they’ve had in this course.
“He was very detailed. He had his point man brief the route which is important because, if his men see that the point man knows the route and is confident in it, it’s going to put them at ease and fill them with confidence,” the instructor explained.
With teams brought up to speed, they gear up and head to the nearest landing zone for pick up by a CH-46 helicopter to be dropped in their area of operations.
Once there, in a flash, the scout snipers are off the helo and in the tree line. With the sun setting, and under cover of the trees, the scout snipers fan out and begin their patrol through the thick brush to their target area.
Stopping periodically, the team moves quietly to cover any tracks that could give away their position to the enemy.
“It’s all about discipline once they’re out here,” an instructor said. “They need to move quickly, but they need to stay below the radar as to not give away their position.”
Throughout the exercise the team is presented with challenges such as encountering instructors dressed as role players simulating enemy insurgents and deciding whether to engage or avoid all together.
“Once we feel the team leader has proved to us that he can manage his team, we’ll switch him out so we can evaluate each of the students,” said an instructor in the course.
If successful, the students move on to the final portion of the class, which is more marksmanship training and then graduation for the scout snipers.
“Once these guys go back to their units, they are going to be some of the best scout snipers the Corps has to offer,” said an instructor.