There's an anecdote that comes to mind. Many years ago, a fellow IFG member and I had gone to meet a senior researcher from the Small Arms Survey (based out of Geneva). He was in Delhi for a brief time and wished to understand gun ownership in India, so had asked for the meeting. During the course of the meeting it transpired that in his younger days, he had served in the US Army, as a military intelligence officer. So I asked him about his shooting experiences. What he told me really puts the following article in perspective.
He said, (quoting from memory) "I was OK, not a talented shot at all. I mean, I could shoot targets out to 300 yards, but beyond that I was no good."
Now this was said by him in all humility! What struck me was that our troops seldom even train for ranges beyond 100 yards, and here he was telling me that he was a mediocre shot because he was "no good beyond 300 yards"!!
That my friends is the difference between a "shooting nation" and a "disarmed nation".
Source: http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Arti ... 017004043#
Too Many Sniper Rifles, Not Enough Snipers!
Lt Gen H S PANAG
It is empirical military wisdom that more than the gun, it is the man behind the gun that matters. Implying that human re source development matters more in the military than in any other field. A highly motivated, well trained and highly skilled soldier with an inferior weapon will get the better of an adversary with a better weapon, but inferior motivation, training and skills.
The word “sniper“ owes its origin to the British Indian Army of late18th century. A snipe is a migratory water bird which has become rare these days. The snipe was an elusive bird which was difficult to shoot both on the ground and on the wing due to its alertness and a dodgy, ever-changing flight.To shoot a snipe on the ground or on the wing, extraordinary skills of field craft and marksmanship were required. A soldier who was good at snipe shooting was called a “sniper“.
Universally all armies maintain sniper squads in Infantry and Special Forces (SF) units. “Sniping“ is a specialized task. A sniper has to be physically fit, mentally robust and skilled at field craft, particularly stalking, and an exceptional marksman. He has to have the patience to wait or stalk for hours at end to get one shot which has to be a sure shot. Snipers are very effective in conventional and counter insurgency (CI) operations where enemy soldiers, commanders and terrorists, based on intelligence and ob servation, are killed at ranges of 2,000 metres plus. Snipers are also used to shoot terrorists in crowds, in hostage situations and during a fire fight where the sniper is in over watch position.Since the snipers are highly skilled, they make ever shot count. In Vietnam War 50,000 rounds were fired to kill one enemy soldier. The statistics are not known for our army but a rough check done by me in CI operations in J&K found that 5,000 round were used to kill one terrorist. Snipers on the other hand take only 1.3 rounds to achieve a kill. Most armies appreciate the worth of snipers and employ elaborate training methods to develop this resource. Very stringent qualification and validation tests are laid out. Only a few make the grade.
In the Indian Army up to late 50s there used to be Sniper Section of 10 men, in each infantry battalion, that operated directly under the Commanding Officer. The weapon authorized was the Lee Enfield .303 No. 4 Mark 1(T) Rifle considered one of the greatest sniper rifles and had earned a name for itself during the Second World War. A very tough sniper course was also run at the Infantry School up to l970. When we switched over to semi-automatic 7.62 mm Rifle in the 60s, no replacement was found for the old sniper rifle. Both the sniper rifle and the sniper section just disappeared from the Army for 30 years.
In the 90s, the Dragunov SVDN Sniper Rifle with range of 1,300 meters was introduced into the Army. India has approximately 360 Infantry battalions, 50 Assam Rifles battalions and 62 Rashtriya Rifles battalions, ie, a total 472 battalions. Each battalion is authorized 10 sniper rifles. Thus, the Indian Army has 4,720 sniper rifles.There is no military trade of “sniper“ but any soldier with limited training mans the sniper rifle. Generally, two snipers are trained in each of the four rifle companies and two are part of the Ghatak Platoon. Sniper rifles are also authorized to SF units.
The sniper course was restarted but remains a poor cousin of the former course. The Indian Army's strength is the regimental ethos and elan. The skill levels are average and assumed to be compensated by motivation and ethos. Adequate attention is not paid to selection, training and sustainment of specialists like the snipers. Indian Infantry does not follow the specialist trade system and a jack of all trades is just not good enough for specialist tasks.
The universal test of a sniper is to score a first shot “head shot“ at 600 meters and first shot “body (chest) shot“ at 1,000 meters and that too after an indefinite wait in a hide. If a sniper cannot pass this test, he cannot be called a sniper and remains a marksman or a sharp shooter. To the best of my knowledge no “sniper“ of the Indian Army can pass this test. If there are a few exceptions they will only prove the rule.
The irony is that we gave the word “sniper“ to the military world, we have 4,700 very effective if not the best, Draugnov Sniper Rifles, but we do not have enough snipers. More so, when the snipers are most effective in CI operations and Line of Control Warfare.
(The writer is former Army commander, Northern and Central Command)