News: Scout sniper versus scout sniper
Story by Lance Cpl. Emmanuel Ramos
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. – On a cool dewy morning scout snipers kept a low silhouette as they carefully clipped vegetation. Each of them meticulous in their selection and placement of their foliage on their ghillie because here the difference between good camouflage and bad camouflage means you fail the exercise, but in combat it could be the difference between life and death.
In this exercise the class was broken into two five-man teams. Each team’s objective was to stalk their way across more than 790 yards of grassy terrain and come within 200 yards of the opposing team’s observation post and take a shot without being discovered. They had three hours.
“It’s not easy,” said a student enrolled in the course, students and instructors names are withheld for security purposes. “It takes a lot of discipline to inch your way across a rocky landscape through mud and water, with all kinds of bugs crawling over you, without being seen.”
Students were given 10 minutes to plan a route and camouflage their entire bodies using the vegetation around them. They attached it to their ghillie suit, which is specially designed camouflaged clothing made to resemble heavy foliage.
“It all comes down to your attention to detail,” said a student enrolled in the course as he prepped his ghillie suit. “Picking the right vegetation is crucial, otherwise you’ll stick out like a sore thumb.”
Once their prep time was over, each side sent two, two-man teams, leaving one behind at the observation post with an instructor to detect the scout snipers trying to take a shot on their post.
Adding to the difficulty of stalking through the low cut grass and the time frame, the scout snipers also had to avoid the opposing team’s scout snipers.
“If they encounter each other while stalking to the opposing OP [observation post], it’s on,” said an instructor in the course, as he scoured the terrain for a sign of the scout snipers. “They have to take out the other team before they get taken out, and whoever does get taken out, has to restart from their OP.”
The scout snipers use a technique called “skull dragging” to help avoid detection. When skull dragging, Marines have their head to the ground as they inch forward.
“Stay low,” said a student enrolled in the course. “That’s all that going through mind. The landscape here had portions where the grass was only about four inches high, so you have to keep your face to the ground the entire way.”
With only minutes left in the stalk, one team came within 50 yards of the OP, before the observer sent out a walker and guided him to the scout sniper’s position.
“We couldn’t see the OP from where we were at,” a student said. “We knew we were close, but we didn’t think we where that close.”
At the same time, the opposing team had taken over the opposing OP, making them the winners of this exercise.
“It came down to having a good route and good camouflage,” a student said.