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Counter-sniper tactics

Counter-sniper tactics

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Counter-sniper tactics involves tactics used by a sniper
A sniper is a marksman who shoots targets from concealed positions or distances exceeding the capabilities of regular personnel. Snipers typically have specialized training and distinct high-precision rifles....

 against another sniper.

The occurrence of sniper
A sniper is a marksman who shoots targets from concealed positions or distances exceeding the capabilities of regular personnel. Snipers typically have specialized training and distinct high-precision rifles....

War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

fare has led to the evolution of many counter-sniper tactics in modern military strategies. These aim to reduce the damage caused by a sniper to a fighting force, which can often be harmful to both fighting capabilities and morale.

Reducing the risk of damage

During the stalking phase of his attack a sniper will, if time allows, try to identify high-value targets such as senior officers or senior NCOs
Non-commissioned officer
A non-commissioned officer , called a sub-officer in some countries, is a military officer who has not been given a commission...

. He will do this by closely observing the behavior of the people in front of him. His intention is to identify who is in charge and then prepare to fire at them. It naturally follows that leaders should attempt to blend into the background by avoiding anything that distinguishes them from the most junior soldiers and attracts the interest of a sniper. In order to reduce a sniper's ability to damage the chain of command, doctrine and equipment need to prevent any observable "leadership" behaviors and signs. Insignia, e.g. rank
Military rank
Military rank is a system of hierarchical relationships in armed forces or civil institutions organized along military lines. Usually, uniforms denote the bearer's rank by particular insignia affixed to the uniforms...

 insignia, should be subdued (dark/black as opposed to bright colors), camouflage colors on camouflage
Camouflage is a method of concealment that allows an otherwise visible animal, military vehicle, or other object to remain unnoticed, by blending with its environment. Examples include a leopard's spotted coat, the battledress of a modern soldier and a leaf-mimic butterfly...

, battle-dress identical for all ranks, military servants and rank-based luxuries (like saluting
A salute is a gesture or other action used to display respect. Salutes are primarily associated with armed forces, but other organizations and civil people also use salutes.-Military salutes:...

) avoided in forward areas, and commands and instruction should be given discreetly. Additionally, other acts such as looking at maps, using a radio, pointing authoritatively, abstaining from menial tasks and other forms of body language
Body language
Body language is a form of non-verbal communication, which consists of body posture, gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements. Humans send and interpret such signals almost entirely subconsciously....

 can betray an officer's rank. However, it is important to emphasize that if a sniper cannot identify an officer or NCO, he may then select any person that he has a good chance of hitting.

Valuable assets should be parked in sand-bagged redoubt
A redoubt is a fort or fort system usually consisting of an enclosed defensive emplacement outside a larger fort, usually relying on earthworks, though others are constructed of stone or brick. It is meant to protect soldiers outside the main defensive line and can be a permanent structure or a...

s until they are launched, preventing "anti-materiel
Materiel is a term used in English to refer to the equipment and supplies in military and commercial supply chain management....

" attacks. This is a prudent tactic in any circumstance, as it prevents damage from fragments.

Locating an attacking sniper

Once a sniper attack has occurred, the most difficult task is determining the sniper's location. Because snipers use camouflage, carefully choose their firing positions, and often attack from long distances, they are often able to strike and withdraw without ever being pinpointed. Being aware of the methods snipers use to conceal themselves is also integral to this, as most objects that are usually overlooked are able to function as a snipers' nest. This includes stationary cars that specifically have a hole cut out to allow the sniper a place to shoot out of, the driver functioning as the spotter. It could also include boxes or piles of rubble that one wouldn't generally suspect. Snipers have been getting more and more innovative in their attempts to conceal themselves so places that one wouldn't usually expect to hold a sniper can become suspect.

Sniper vs. Sniper

A friendly sniper is generally the most effective counter-sniper tool. With similar training, knowledge of the surroundings, and equipment, the friendly sniper can offer advice to the squad, enhanced searching capability, and a means to combat the enemy sniper directly. When told what to watch for, the squad can also act as additional eyes and ears for the friendly sniper. Aside from watching over the squad, the friendly sniper also has the option to detach and engage the enemy sniper. Without any outside help from the squad, the respective skills of each sniper play a significant role in determining victory. A sniper duel can frequently distract the enemy sniper from his mission.
  • Triangulation
    In trigonometry and geometry, triangulation is the process of determining the location of a point by measuring angles to it from known points at either end of a fixed baseline, rather than measuring distances to the point directly...

    technique at two or more locations can more accurately identify the position of a sniper at the time of firing.

  • Sound delay ("crack-bang"): The enemy's supersonic
    Supersonic speed is a rate of travel of an object that exceeds the speed of sound . For objects traveling in dry air of a temperature of 20 °C this speed is approximately 343 m/s, 1,125 ft/s, 768 mph or 1,235 km/h. Speeds greater than five times the speed of sound are often...

     bullets produce a sonic boom
    Sonic boom
    A sonic boom is the sound associated with the shock waves created by an object traveling through the air faster than the speed of sound. Sonic booms generate enormous amounts of sound energy, sounding much like an explosion...

    , creating a "crack" sound as they pass by. If the enemy's bullet speed is known, his range can be estimated by measuring the delay between the bullet's passing and the sound of the rifle shot, then comparing it to a table of values. This is only effective at distances of up to 450 meters; beyond this, the delay continues to increase, but at a rate too small for humans to distinguish accurately. Also, in urban areas, the sound can give inaccurate results because the buildings in the area can relay false sound directions.

  • Detector: The 'sniper detector' system, named Boomerang
    Boomerang (mobile shooter detection system)
    Boomerang is a gunfire locator developed by DARPA and BBN Technologies primarily for use against snipers on mobile vehicles such as the Humvee, Stryker, and MRAP combat vehicles. There were future plans to integrate it into the Land Warrior system....

    , was developed through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
    Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
    The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technology for use by the military...

     and can determine the bullet type, trajectory, and point of fire of unknown shooter locations. The system uses microphone sensors to detect both the muzzle blast and the sonic shock wave that emanate from a high-speed bullet. Sensors detect, classify, localize and display the results on a map immediately after the shot. The system sensors are usually mounted on a vehicle. The United States military is also funding a project known as RedOwl, which uses laser and acoustic sensors to determine the exact direction from which a sniper round has been fired. The RedOwl system has been tested on the PackBot
    PackBot is a series of military robots by iRobot. More than 2000 PackBots are currently on station in Iraq and Afghanistan, with hundreds more on the way.-Current PackBot 510 variants:...

     robot from iRobot
    iRobot Corporation is an American advanced technology company founded in 1990 and incorporated in Delaware in 2000, the iRobot Corporation designs robots such as an autonomous home vacuum cleaner , the Scooba that scrubs and cleans hard floors, and military and police robots, such as the PackBot...

     Corporation http://news.com.com/iRobot+unveils+sniper+detector/2100-11394_3-5888411.html.

Counter-attacking the sniper

Once a sniper's position is known or suspected, other options follow:
  • Artillery
    Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

    If the sniper's general position can be determined by other means, the area can be bombarded by mortars or artillery. Rockets and even guided missiles are also usable, typically if the sniper has become a major problem and other neutralizing attempts have failed.
  • Smoke screen: In urban settings or other environments with limited movement and fields of view, smoke can be an effective means to screen friendly movement. This can be used either to pass through and escape, or to close in on and eliminate the enemy sniper. Ordinary soldiers can still do damage through smoke by firing randomly or on intuition, but a sniper loses his precision advantage and is far less likely to hit anything with his much lower possible shot volume. A determined enemy, such as an emplaced heavy machine gun, will fire randomly through smoke, so this is a dangerous tactic. It should also be noted that weapons of opportunity may also provide a smoke screen, anything from igniting a car's gas tank, oil drum, or using fragmentation grenades to throw up debris and quickly break line of sight and concentration. Flash-bang (distraction) grenades have a wider blast radius than fragmentation grenades.
  • Rush: Also known as "Close With And Destroy." If the squad is pinned down by sniper fire and taking casualties, the order may be given to rush the sniper's position. If the sniper is too far away for a direct rush, a "rush to cover" can also be used. The squad may take casualties, but with many moving targets and a slow-firing rifle, the losses are usually small compared to holding position and being slowly picked off.
  • Pincer movement
    Pincer movement
    The pincer movement or double envelopment is a military maneuver. The flanks of the opponent are attacked simultaneously in a pinching motion after the opponent has advanced towards the center of an army which is responding by moving its outside forces to the enemy's flanks, in order to surround it...

    If the sniper's position is known but direct retaliation is not possible, a pair of squads can move through concealment (preferably cover) and drive the sniper toward the group containing the targets. This decreases the chances that the sniper will find a stealthy, quick escape route. A pincer movement attack can be combined with artillery or mortar fire, so long as this is tightly coordinated, i.e. the target area covered by bombardment does not overlap with the movement of the counter-attacking troops. Even if bombardment does not kill or wound the sniper, it may flush him from cover.
  • Basic sniper identification method
  1. The defenders monitor contact. As soon as contact is taken, the defenders try to make sure to take cover. If the defenders are on dismount, they try to make sure cover is the closest and most secure cover possible. If the defenders are mounted, they try to ensure all gunners reduce to "Chin strap defilade" where nothing is showing out of the vehicle but the chin and above. The defenders try to ensure the gunner has proper shielding.
  2. The defenders scan the area to locate the snipers position.
  3. The defenders pop smoke
    Smoke grenade
    Smoke grenades are canister-type grenades used as ground-to-ground or ground-to-air signaling devices, target or landing zone marking devices, or as screening devices for unit movements. Smoke grenades are normally considered non-lethal, although incorrect use may cause death...

     to cover and conceal their position.
  4. The defenders designate the element, close in with the element and destroy the enemy.
    • "Tracking Electronically"
  5. In the Egypt protest during 2011, Twitter
    Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, informally known as "tweets".Twitter was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey and launched that July...

    , Facebook
    Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

    , and other social networks have been used to pin point snipers and warn others of their locations.