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Snipers in Ramadi

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Preacherman, Jan 2, 2006.

  1. Preacherman

    Preacherman Well-Known Member

    From the Telegraph, London (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/mai....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.
  2. Rem700SD

    Rem700SD Well-Known Member

    Just noticed in the pic...Neither rifle shown was the bolt-gun he used. Are there ANY gun owning journalists?
  3. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Well-Known Member

    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
  4. Bacon

    Bacon Well-Known Member

    I still appreciate the article. We need more like this in our own press.
  5. 12-34hom

    12-34hom Well-Known Member

    Excellent. Thanks for the post.

  6. USSR

    USSR Well-Known Member

    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.

    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.

  7. palerider1

    palerider1 member

    Superb post preacherman!!!!!!!! good to see our boys are getting the job done over there.
  8. JesseJames

    JesseJames Well-Known Member

    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.
  9. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Well-Known Member

    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:
  10. Rob1035

    Rob1035 Well-Known Member

    "....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.
  11. Balog

    Balog Well-Known Member

    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.
  12. Hardtarget

    Hardtarget Well-Known Member

    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.
  13. adaman04

    adaman04 Well-Known Member

    Nice little write up, but where's the M24?
  14. BigG

    BigG Well-Known Member

    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.
  15. TarpleyG

    TarpleyG Well-Known Member

    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?

  16. KaceCoyote

    KaceCoyote Well-Known Member

    Lets see, long barreled Kalashnikov. RPK, Dragunov(Al kedish I think?)
  17. MarshallDodge

    MarshallDodge Well-Known Member

    Although biased it was a good story.

    1200 meters is a loooong shot.
  18. warth0g

    warth0g Well-Known Member

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

  19. TarpleyG

    TarpleyG Well-Known Member

    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.

  20. rchernandez

    rchernandez Well-Known Member

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

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