Snipers in Ramadi


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Preacherman
January 2, 2006, 02:15 PM
From the Telegraph, London (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/01/01/wirq01.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/01/01/ixnewstop.html):

Sniper shot that took out an insurgent killer from three quarters of a mile

Toby Harnden in Ramadi
(Filed: 01/01/2006)

Gazing through the telescopic sight of his M24 rifle, Staff Sgt Jim Gilliland, leader of Shadow sniper team, fixed his eye on the Iraqi insurgent who had just killed an American soldier.

His quarry stood nonchalantly in the fourth-floor bay window of a hospital in battle-torn Ramadi, still clasping a long-barrelled Kalashnikov. Instinctively allowing for wind speed and bullet drop, Shadow's commander aimed 12 feet high.

A single shot hit the Iraqi in the chest and killed him instantly. It had been fired from a range of 1,250 metres, well beyond the capacity of the powerful Leupold sight, accurate to 1,000 metres.

"I believe it is the longest confirmed kill in Iraq with a 7.62mm rifle," said Staff Sgt Gilliland, 28, who hunted squirrels in Double Springs, Alabama from the age of five before progressing to deer - and then people.

"He was visible only from the waist up. It was a one in a million shot. I could probably shoot a whole box of ammunition and never hit him again."

Later that day, Staff Sgt Gilliland found out that the dead soldier was Staff Sgt Jason Benford, 30, a good friend.

The insurgent was one of between 55 and 65 he estimates that he has shot dead in less than five months, putting him within striking distance of sniper legends such as Carlos Hathcock, who recorded 93 confirmed kills in Vietnam. One of his men, Specialist Aaron Arnold, 22, of Medway, Ohio, has chalked up a similar tally.

"It was elating, but only afterwards," said Staff Sgt Gilliland, recalling the September 27 shot. "At the time, there was no high-fiving. You've got troops under fire, taking casualties and you're not thinking about anything other than finding a target and putting it down. Every shot is for the betterment of our cause."

All told, the 10-strong Shadow sniper team, attached to Task Force 2/69, has killed just under 200 in the same period and emerged as the US Army's secret weapon in Ramadi against the threat of the hidden Improvised Explosive Device (IED) or roadside bomb - the insurgency's deadliest tactic.

Above the spot from which Staff Sgt Gilliland took his record shot, in a room at the top of a bombed-out observation post which is code-named Hotel and known jokingly to soldiers as the Ramadi Inn, are daubed "Kill Them All" and "Kill Like you Mean it".

On another wall are scrawled the words of Senator John McCain: "America is great not because of what she has done for herself but because of what she has done for others."

The juxtaposition of macho slogans and noble political rhetoric encapsulates the dirty, dangerous and often callous job the sniper has to carry out as an integral part of a campaign ultimately being waged to help the Iraqi people.

With masterful understatement, Lt Col Robert Roggeman, the Task Force 2/69 commander, conceded: "The romantic in me is disappointed with the reception we've received in Ramadi," a town of 400,000 on the banks of the Euphrates where graffiti boasts, with more than a degree of accuracy: "This is the graveyard of the Americans".

"We're the outsiders, the infidels," he said. "Every time somebody goes out that main gate he might not come back. It's still a running gun battle."

Highly effective though they are, he worries about the burden his snipers have to bear. "It's a very God-like role. They have the power of life and death that, if not held in check, can run out of control. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

"Every shot has to be measured against the Rules of Engagement [ROE], positive identification and proportionality."

Staff Sgt Gilliland explains that his Shadow team operates at the "borderlines" of the ROE, making snap judgements about whether a figure in the crosshairs is an insurgent or not.

"Hunters give their animals respect," he said, spitting out a mouthful of chewing tobacco. "If you have no respect for what you do you're not going to be very good or you're going to make a mistake. We try to give the benefit of the doubt.

"You've got to live with it. It's on your conscience. It's something you've got to carry away with you. And if you shoot somebody just walking down the street, then that's probably going to haunt you."

Although killing with a single shot carries an enormous cachet within the sniper world, their most successful engagements have involved the shooting a up to 10 members of a single IED team.

"The one-shot-one-kill thing is one of beauty but killing all the bad dudes is even more attractive," said Staff Sgt Gilliland, whose motto is "Move fast, shoot straight and leave the rest to the counsellors in 10 years" and signs off his e-mails with "silent souls make.308 holes".

Whether Shadow team's work will ultimately make a difference in Iraq is open to question. No matter how many insurgents they shoot, there seems no shortage of recruits to plant bombs.

Col John Gronski, the overall United States commander in Ramadi, said there could not be a military solution. "You could spend years putting snipers out and killing IED emplacers and at the political level it would make no difference."

As they prepare to leave Iraq, however, Staff Sgt Gilliland and his men hope that they have bought a little more time for the country's politicians to fix peace and stability in their sights.

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Rem700SD
January 2, 2006, 02:39 PM
Just noticed in the pic...Neither rifle shown was the bolt-gun he used. Are there ANY gun owning journalists?

Vern Humphrey
January 2, 2006, 03:20 PM
Just noticed in the pic...Neither rifle shown was the bolt-gun he used. Are there ANY gun owning journalists?

Notice the source, the London Telegraph.

I once picked up a book, published in England that purported show "how everything works." Paging through it, I came to the section on guns, which was illustrated with a picture of a .45 Automatic.

A call-out pointing to the butt informed me this was a "handle clip" and another pointing to the tang of the grip safety proclaimed it was the "firing pin.":D

Bacon
January 2, 2006, 03:42 PM
I still appreciate the article. We need more like this in our own press.

12-34hom
January 2, 2006, 05:05 PM
Excellent. Thanks for the post.

12-34hom.

USSR
January 2, 2006, 05:25 PM
A single shot hit the Iraqi in the chest and killed him instantly. It had been fired from a range of 1,250 metres, well beyond the capacity of the powerful Leupold sight, accurate to 1,000 metres.

Reporters.:rolleyes: The limitation is not the Leupold scope, it's the cartridge (7.62x51) itself. That 175SMK bullet went subsonic at probably 1100 yards.

Instinctively allowing for wind speed and bullet drop, Shadow's commander aimed 12 feet high.
"He was visible only from the waist up. It was a one in a million shot. I could probably shoot a whole box of ammunition and never hit him again."

I'd say that one in a million was an understatement. Instinctively allowing for wind speed and bullet drop? I'd call it a scratch shot, similar to Billy Dixon's shot at Adobe Walls. Still, congrats to Sgt. Gilliland on a job well done.

Don

palerider1
January 2, 2006, 05:34 PM
Superb post preacherman!!!!!!!! good to see our boys are getting the job done over there.
thanks,
palerider1

JesseJames
January 2, 2006, 05:46 PM
Heh, I've met one Army sniper when I was in the service. They are some of the most low-key guys you could meet. Quiet.
Kind of what you would expect of someone who has to master control of himself.

Vern Humphrey
January 2, 2006, 05:55 PM
Heh, I've met one Army sniper when I was in the service. They are some of the most low-key guys you could meet. Quiet.
Kind of what you would expect of someone who has to master control of himself.

When I was in the Second Infantry Division in '80 and '81, the Division Snipers were sort of in my purview. We had a case where a GI mugged a sniper sergeant in Ton Du Chon. What happened isn't really clear, but the sniper was slashed across the back of the hand, and the mugger fell or was knocked down, hitting his neck on the curb and breaking it. He would up totally paralyzed.

The sniper sergeant had to have several surgeries on his hand -- he used to come in and say, "If you have anything for me to do one-handed, I'll do it, sir. But I gotta be back in Seoul for another operation next month."

One evening I was honored by the senior NCOs with a beer at their hootch. The convesation turned to the mugging, and the G4 Sergeant Major said, "I know the kid did wrong, but to be paralized for life -- think what that means."

The sniper sergeant looked at his bandaged hand and said slowly, "I think about that a lot. And I think about what it means. It means when I kicked him in the balls, he didn't feel a thing.":what:

Rob1035
January 2, 2006, 06:05 PM
"....Staff Sgt Gilliland, 28, who hunted squirrels in Double Springs, Alabama from the age of five before progressing to deer - and then people."

Nice.:barf: Interesting slant in the article, but I guess its a euro media outlet


I'm glad our guys/gals are doing good over there. I'm also glad that the military has finally (hopefully?) realized the value of sharpshooters in battle.

Balog
January 3, 2006, 12:18 AM
2/69 controls the area just west of us. Dunno much about 'em, except that their Bradleys get blown up a lot when they try to transit our AO. Don't know the roads well, I guess.

Hardtarget
January 3, 2006, 12:31 AM
I thought the kill had to be a "confirmed" kill by his spotter. Didn't it say "estimated" on his total? Surely there is a way to confirm his number. Still...I wish him luck with his hunting. Hope he comes home.
Mark.

adaman04
January 3, 2006, 12:37 AM
Nice little write up, but where's the M24?

BigG
January 3, 2006, 02:08 PM
While I am all for the protection of American lives in the sand box and recognize and applaud the accomplishments of the Shadow Team, I noticed the little trigger words that weasel Toby Harnden used, trying to paint a distasteful portrait of SSG Gilliland and crew to his readers.

Why can't they write something nice or shut the heck up?

The fact that he and his fellow travelers at the Telegraph are not writing in a German-language publication under heavy censorship only due to efforts of better men than he is apparently lost on him.

TarpleyG
January 3, 2006, 03:31 PM
I am no sniper but I have done my fair share of long range rifle shooting. 1200 meters just doesn't seem all that far with a .308 and a scope. Hell, we used to qualify at 500 meters with an old worn out M-16 and iron sights in the Corps and I could consistantly keep it in the 10-ring. I dunno, maybe it becomes exponentially more difficult the farther out one shoots. Opinions/comments?

Greg

KaceCoyote
January 3, 2006, 03:41 PM
Lets see, long barreled Kalashnikov. RPK, Dragunov(Al kedish I think?)

MarshallDodge
January 3, 2006, 03:47 PM
Although biased it was a good story.

1200 meters is a loooong shot.

warth0g
January 3, 2006, 03:49 PM
I am no sniper but I have done my fair share of long range rifle shooting. 1200 meters just doesn't seem all that far with a .308 and a scope. Hell, we used to qualify at 500 meters with an old worn out M-16 and iron sights in the Corps and I could consistantly keep it in the 10-ring. I dunno, maybe it becomes exponentially more difficult the farther out one shoots. Opinions/comments?

Greg

I beg to differ, 1200 meters is beyond what you can expect out of a 308.

warthog:)

TarpleyG
January 4, 2006, 01:41 PM
Well, it's obviously within the effective range since he killed the guy. Anyway, I suspect a .50 BMG would be more sufficient in this instance.

Greg

rchernandez
January 4, 2006, 01:46 PM
Well, it's obviously within the effective range since he killed the guy. Anyway, I suspect a .50 BMG would be more sufficient in this instance.

Greg


I was thinking more along the lines of a .338 Lapua (Magnum)...

Vern Humphrey
January 4, 2006, 01:49 PM
Well, it's obviously within the effective range since he killed the guy. Anyway, I suspect a .50 BMG would be more sufficient in this instance.

Greg

By defintion, "effective range" is the range where a soldier can get 50% or more hits on a man-sized target. This is a hit beyond effective range.

Chipperman
January 4, 2006, 02:50 PM
<On another wall are scrawled the words of Senator John McCain: "America is great not because of what she has done for herself but because of what she has done for others.">

Interesting that they have a quote from McCain. :scrutiny:

Creeping Incrementalism
January 4, 2006, 05:00 PM
I am no sniper but I have done my fair share of long range rifle shooting. 1200 meters just doesn't seem all that far with a .308 and a scope. Hell, we used to qualify at 500 meters with an old worn out M-16 and iron sights in the Corps and I could consistantly keep it in the 10-ring. I dunno, maybe it becomes exponentially more difficult the farther out one shoots. Opinions/comments?

Greg

The amount of hold-over gets exponentially higher as distances increase. Furthermore, it sounds like it was so far away that he couldn't measure the amount of hold-over and had to guesstimate.

Zak Smith
January 4, 2006, 05:09 PM
If we know he was "holding over" 12 feet, we can figure out where his last dope point was.

At 1250 meters, the 175SMK fired at 2650fps will be dropping about 1.8" per incremental meter. 144 / 1.8 = about 78 meters. Drop at 1250 meters is about 60 MOA.

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