Becoming a Navy SEAL Sniper

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Becoming a Navy SEAL Sniper

Mensaje por doc_breacher el Lun 5 Mar 2012 - 9:23

The cold morning air hung thick in the Afghan valley. Each warm exhale of breath would briefly fog the outside corner of my riflescope as I waited and maintained a clear view of my target. I could make out a middle-aged man, in traditional Afghan dress, with a crook in his step, perhaps a wound and story from another conflict. Intense training in the elite US Navy SEAL Sniper course had taught me to be patient, wait for a perfect shot, control my breathing and then execute.

At that moment in time I reflected internally, I alone held this man’s life in my hands. Firing long range it is critical to account for all environmental and ballistic factors, wind, temperature, barometric pressure, degree of latitude, bullet velocity and the deviation caused by the earth’s rotation (known as “the Coriolis effect”).

Every detail of this shot had been programmed into my handheld computer, which then gave me a firing solution. My scope was adjusted and in sync with my environment. With a one centimeter movement of my right index finger, I was about to deliver this man’s death. I would come to learn that every kill would be burned into memory like frames in a movie. Breathe, focus, squeeze. As I stared at his lifeless body, steam was slowly rising from the bullet hole in his chest. The shot was more than a kilometer away; he was gone without ever hearing the report of the rifle.

As a former Navy SEAL Sniper, sniper instructor and eventually course manager (head master) of the secretive US Navy SEAL sniper course, I am intimately familiar with the patience and skill required to simultaneously execute the three pirates who held a US shipping captain hostage off the coast of Somalia. It took the SEAL sniper team less than 10 hours to deploy, get half way around the world and complete their mission, start to finish. Another day at the office…

The 21st Century Sniper is a mature, intelligent shooter who leverages technology to his deadly advantage. He has spent thousands of hours honing his skills. He is a master of concealment in all environments, from the mountains of Afghanistan to the crowded streets of Iraq. He is trained in science and left alone to create the unique art of the kill. To the sniper, the battlefield is like a painter’s blank canvas. It is his job to simultaneously utilise tools, training and creativity to deliver devastating psychological impact upon the battlefield. And it is he alone that is left with the intimacy of the kill.

What does it take to make a Navy SEAL sniper? The SEAL course is arguably best in class. It is the most challenging and technically advanced course in the world. Just looking at the accomplishments of the course graduates is justification enough. Few people outside of US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) know this of course. What you will not read about on Wikipedia or anywhere else, is that the Navy SEALs currently have the most accomplished sniper in SOCOM, with over one hundred confirmed kills to his credit.

We seek out a special breed of man; a man who is willing to crawl over the hot desert floor for hours, as slow as a snail, through his own bodily waste to set up on his target. A man who will then wait hours and more for that perfect shot. A man with the will and patience of a sniper.

The US Navy SEAL course is divided into three phases over 90 days, and tests to the highest standards in the world.

In the first phase, the candidate learns the latest in digital photography techniques, computer image manipulation/compression and satellite radio communications. Historically the sniper would sketch a target in detail and record notes with pencil and paper. In the 21st century the sniper leverages technology to his advantage, he uses the most advanced digital SLR camera systems, small handheld computers, and the most advanced ballistic software in the world to record target information and produce an accurate firing solution.

Phase two is the Scout portion of training. The name of the game is stealth and concealment. In this phase the sniper learns the art of camouflage, small unit tactics, patrolling techniques and most importantly how to get in and get out of hostile enemy area undetected, without leaving behind the slightest sign he was there. We often fail candidates who leave behind the slightest trace; a bullet casing left behind will get you sent home.

Towards the end of this phase we introduce advanced marksmanship fundamentals and a system of mental management utilized by the top athletes in the world. Mental management gives the students the tools (whether or not they use them is up to them) to cope with adversity and also a system to rehearse and practice their skills perfectly through mental visualization techniques.

To prove the value of mental management and rehearsal, I would often relate a true story related to the topic. A Navy fighter pilot was shot down in Vietnam, captured and imprisoned for years in the famous prisoner of war camp the “Hanoi Hilton”. The pilot was an avid golfer back home, and to get through the extremely demanding situation, he would shoot rounds of golf in his head.

For years he would play his favorite courses perfectly in his mind. Eventually liberated and back on US soil, the first thing this pilot did was jump out of the military ambulance and onto the golf course. After explaining away his ragged looks (he was tall man and extremely skinny from malnutrition) he shot nine holes of golf at 1 under par. This was shocking to those that witnessed the event and when questioned about how this was possible, the pilot replied “Gentlemen, I haven’t hit a bad shot in 4 years!”

Phase three is the sniper portion. We spend hours in the classroom learning the science behind the shot, ballistics, environmental factors, human factors and calculating for wind, distance and target lead, later putting the knowledge to practical application on the shooting range. The students train and test with moving and pop-up targets in high wind conditions out to 1000 meters.

As part of the training we put the shooters in the most stressful and challenging situations imaginable. We look for signs of high intelligence, patience and mental maturity. Then we intentionally (often unknown to the candidate) place the shooter in adverse and unfair situations to test their mettle.

An example of this would be the “edge” shot. Individual trainees are lined up on the shooting range and are told they have four minutes to run 600 meters, set up on the firing line, and wait for their targets to appear, sometime between four minutes, one second and an hour. We always send a target up right at three minutes, usually right when the shooters are just getting set up on their lanes and identifying their fields of fire. Often times a shooter will take his eyes away for a split second to wipe sweat from his brow, then drop down on his scope to see his target disappear and his opportunity gone.

The peer pressure is intense, and shooters often breakdown in frustration at a missed shot. They eventually learn to control their feelings or they don’t move on. As instructors, we keep detailed student records and document everything. A large percentage of SEAL candidates don’t make it through the course and just getting a billet is extremely competitive. No one wants to go back to his SEAL Team a loser having failed out of the course.

However, this course is one of the few courses you can fail as a SEAL and not be looked down upon by your teammates. This is because the SEAL course is renowned as one of the toughest and most challenging courses in the world. Over three months and seven day 100-hour workweeks go into the training. It takes extreme perseverance to graduate with the title of SEAL sniper. To this day, and even in comparison to my combat tours, it was one of the most stressful events of my life. It is the main reason I decided to chronicle the experience in detail in my upcoming novel.

The SEAL snipers who took those fatal shots deployed from the eastern coast of the United States, flew across the Atlantic and parachuted with full kit into darkness at 12,000 feet, into the deep warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Once in the water, they then rendezvous with US Naval forces off the coast of Somalia.

Once aboard ship, the SEAL officer in charge (OIC) took command of the scene; Then hours later under cover of darkness, on a moonless night, shooting from large ship to a small moving lifeboat, the snipers took three lives with three shots. In a split second it was over, with the flawlessness and ease that comes with prior experience, countless hours of training and rehearsal. We have a creed in the SEAL Teams that I continue to live by to this day. “The only easy day was yesterday”.

ALPHA Squad · S08

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Re: Becoming a Navy SEAL Sniper

Mensaje por SiX el Lun 5 Mar 2012 - 9:25

Que buena pinta tiene, me lo tengo que leer. Gracias Doc!

"Que le den por culo al Pato Mickey"

Keep Low. Move Fast. Kill First. Die Last. One Shot. One Kill. No Luck. Pure Skill.
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Re: Becoming a Navy SEAL Sniper

Mensaje por cherypunk el Lun 5 Mar 2012 - 9:28

tiene muy buena pinta.

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