SNIPER TEAM - Snipers avoid sustained battles. They typically operate in three-Soldier teams, each with at least one sniper and one observer, normally cross-trained. The observer carries an M4 rifle; the sniper carries the sniper weapon system; and each member carries a side arm. Team members help each other with range estimation, round adjustment, and security. Sniper activity should be planned and controlled by the sniper employment officer (SEO).
SQUAD DESIGNATED MARKSMAN - The squad designated marksman can seldom perform as well as well-trained snipers, so commanders and platoon leaders should avoid employing them as such. However, the marksman is a valuable asset who can contribute in many ways. Leaders should remember the value of the marksman versus the sniper, and use each to the best of their respective abilities in any situation.
EMPLOYMENT - The commander or sniper squad leader controls sniper teams from a central location. Once deployed, sniper teams generally operate independently. To accomplish the assigned unit mission, they must understand the commander's intent, concept of the operation, and purpose for their assigned tasks. Snipers are effective only in areas with good fields of fire and observation. They must have the freedom of action to choose their own positions once on the ground. The number of sniper teams participating in an operation depends on their availability, on the expected duration of the mission, and on the enemy's strength and disposition.
SECURITY ELEMENT - Sniper teams should move with a security element (squad or platoon) whenever possible. Initially, sniper teams can also move with a mounted element, which allows them to enter an area more quickly and more safely than if they operated alone. The security element also protects the snipers during the operation. When moving with a security element, snipers follow these guidelines.
• The leader of the security element leads the sniper team.
• Snipers must appear to be an integral part of the security element. Whenever possible, based on METT-TC (Mission, Enemy, Terrain and Weather, Troops and Support Available, Time Available, Civil Considerations), snipers conceal their sniper-unique equipment, such as optics, radios, and ghillie suits, from view.
• Snipers must wear the same uniforms as the members of the security element. Snipers and element members maintain proper intervals and positions in the element formation.
1. Mission - The sniper's primary mission is to support combat operations by delivering precise rifle fire from concealed positions. The mission assigned to a sniper team for a particular operation consists of the task(s) the commander wants the sniper team to accomplish and the reason (purpose) for it. The commander must decide how he wants his sniper team to affect the battlefield. Then he must assign missions to achieve this effect.
• The commander assigns target priorities so snipers can avoid involvement in sustained engagements. Sniper teams are free to change targets to support the commander's intent.
• The commander describes the effect or result he expects and allows the sniper team to select key targets. Since nether the M24 or M107 weapon system is available to the sniper team, they can select the best one to use to achieve the desired effect.
• The commander may also designate the sniper to act as an observer of a target or an area rather than task conventional forces to do so. The sniper's ability to remain undetected for long periods may make this a more practical mission than dedicating other forces to do so.
• The commander may assign specific types of targets to achieve an effect. He may task snipers to kill bulldozer operators and other engineer equipment operators to disrupt enemy defensive preparations. Or, he may task snipers to disable enemy command or supply vehicles, or to engage enemy soldiers digging defensive positions.
• The commander may assign specific point targets such as bunkers, CPs, or crew-served weapons positions. These can include enemy leaders, command and control operators, antitank guided missile gunners, armored vehicle commanders, weapons crews, or selected individuals. Snipers may also be assigned countersniper roles.
2. Enemy - The commander must consider the following characteristics, capabilities, strengths, weaknesses, and disposition of the enemy:
• Is the enemy force heavy or light, rested or tired, disciplined or not?
• Is it motorized infantry or towed artillery?
• Is it well or poorly supplied?
• Is it patrolling aggressively or is it lax in security?
• Is it positioned in assembly areas or dug in?
The answers to questions like these help the commander determine the enemy's susceptibility and reaction to effective sniper operations. Obviously, a well-rested, well-led, well-supplied, and aggressive enemy with armored protection poses a greater threat to snipers than one that is poorly led, poorly supplied, lax, and unprotected. The commander needs to know if enemy snipers are present and effective, since they can pose a significant danger to his operations and his snipers. The commander must also consider the enemy's directed-energy weapons capability. Snipers' optical devices make them particularly vulnerable to this kind of weapon.
3. Terrain - The commander must evaluate and consider the terrain to and within the sniper's AO, the time and effort snipers will need to get into position, and the effects of weather on the sniper and his visibility. Snipers prefer positions at least 300 meters from their target area. Operating at this distance allows them to avoid effective fire from enemy rifles, while retaining much of the 800- to 1,000-meter effective range of the sniper rifle. Snipers need areas of operations with good observation, fields of fire, and firing positions.
4. Troops - The commander must decide how many sniper teams to use depending on their availability, the duration of the operation, expected opposition, and the number and difficulty of tasks and targets assigned. Commanders must consider the snipers' level of training and physical conditioning, and must remember the effects of these human factors on sniper operations.
5. Time Available - The commander must consider how much time the snipers have to achieve the result he expects. He must allocate time for snipers to plan, coordinate, prepare, rehearse, move, and establish positions. He must understand how the snipers' risk increases with inadequate time to plan or to perform other tasks such as moving to the AO. The length of time a sniper team can remain in a position without loss of effectiveness due to eye fatigue, muscle strain, or cramps depends mostly on the type of position the team occupies. Generally, snipers can remain in an expedient position for six hours before they must be relieved. They can remain in belly positions or semi-permanent hides for up to 48 hours before they must be relieved. The average mission takes about 24 hours. Movement factors for snipers moving with a security element are the same as for any Infantry force. When snipers move alone in the AO, they move slowly; their movement can be measured in feet and inches. The sniper team is the best resource in determining how much time is required for their movement.
6. Civil Considerations - Establishing OPs in populated urban areas require more preparation time than in rural areas. Reconnaissance for suitable OP locations can take two to four days. Some of that time is used to determine the local habits in the area such as patterns of foot traffic and where locals congregate. Every effort should be taken to establish positions off of natural lines of drift.