gun team with a sniper team

Does anyone have experience integrating a MG team with a sniper/spotter or SDM team?  I have heard this referred to as an Israeli support by fire.  I would like to develop it as an SOP for my guys.  The idea would be that the spotter serves as a sort of weapons squad leader.  Any drills you can recommend would be appreciated.  

Original Post

I’ve never tried to integrate a MG team with a sniper team, but the same question arises when a SS tm is integrated or attached to a squad/platoon.  Who is providing security?  And what is the environment?  Semi-permissive?  COIN?  Smash-mouth offensive ops?

I would say that neither element would be good for security for the other, and a rifle squad could effectively spot for the MG tm equally well as a SS tm could.  Or would this lashup operate attached to a platoon, and draw security from that?

It is better that they do it imperfectly than that you do it perfectly. For it is their war and their country and your time here is limited.

 

                                                                                                                        —T. E. Lawrence

 

 

POSREP: UAE

Sorry to not be more clear.  This would be a support by fire for a maneuver element.  I never got to the smash-mouth offensive ops chapter of the ranger handbook, but it sound like what I am thinking of.  SBF for a raid or other conventional infantry op.

No worries.  Those two teams, even if working together, could not provide effective security for themselves, IMO.  They’d need at least a fire team in support, to not only pulll security but also help hump the ammo that the MG tm would need to crossload upon consolidation, while it preps for the CATK.

And it’s been proven in training and combat, several times over, that the SBF element should be substantial (in urban terrain perhaps 3:1) compared to the maneuver element.

http://www.2ndbn5thmar.com/CoT...20McBreen%202001.pdf

If you can find it, LtCol David Kilcullen wrote a great article about suppression in urban attacks/asssaults.

It is better that they do it imperfectly than that you do it perfectly. For it is their war and their country and your time here is limited.

 

                                                                                                                        —T. E. Lawrence

 

 

POSREP: UAE

Old concept.  We used it a lot in the "H" series conventional light infantry MTOE battalions with jeep-mounted recon platoons (eight recce jeeps with M-60s and snipers).  We were also authorized two 60mm mortars which we never saw.  You can probably do the same thing today with military Razors and Mules.

Jeeps went away and bigger (but fewer) Humvees came aboard. 

As an SF company commander I would often get augmented with a conventional platoon, working inner-outer rings on a point target.  This doesn't often translate in conventional doctrine (especially now that cav - recon is either Strykers or Brads -- nothing smaller, faster, and lighter).

Dismounts gain a mobility advantage with a light machinegun like a Mark 46 SAW, a Para-Minimi, PKM, Negev, or Ultimax.  Your sniper-observer kill teams (protected by outer cordon) provide support-by-fire, isolate the target from reinforcements, and kill squirters trying to run.

You can also go heavy...

From a former Army GPF standpoint -

Our AO did not allow the use of vehicles. Not even ATV's. Everything was dismounted.

While we did have missions where the SBF element was light (I'm talking 5-6 PAX out of an element of 18-21), it's honestly not something I would recommend in most cases. It's a niche concept not applicable in many cases - but when it works, it works.  In those scenarios, we were at risk of being pinned down or overrun depending on enemy & terrain considerations. If we even had WIA, our combat effectiveness would have plummeted. We would have either had to pull someone off an LMG, off the glass, or the Section Sergeant would have rendered aid if he knew his gun & sniper teams could monitor and control fires internally without supervision. Yes, this happened - thankfully they fought through it and no one died.

I spent more time observing and correcting LMG fires (MK48's and 240L's) than I did shooting behind a long gun. In fact, I think the only targets I shot in SBF's outside of so-called sentry's or IED emplacers were either Lookie Lou's (short exposure time targets), squirters (moving targets), or stealing a kill from LMG teams by popping a dudes melon while he crawled / stumbled from being tagged by the LMG / the long dick of the LAW / 40mm. "MY KILL!" became a phrase the LMG teams grew to despise, right after "Give me the pig."

As a shooter, scope jump was the biggest issue I had as a solo yolo. If I did not have a spotter, oftentimes I would not be able to conduct BDA or even know if my shot was true. For reference - I scan at low magnification and interrogate / shoot at high magnification. I ended up having to dial back on mag without having a spotter. Body slumped, blood spoor were target indicators, dust was as well if the backdrop was a mudwall. Having a spotter being able to provide immediate feedback cuts down on your OODA loop. Oftentimes the Section Sergeant could do this with PLRF's or a variable powered optic, though a spotting scope was preferred and gave better data.

I strongly disagree that a Rifle Squad could spot as effectively as a sniper/observer team could, at least in the Army. They don't have the glass or the training.

The other big threat was indirect. Our AO had three main threats - recoiless rifles (hereafter referred to as Reckless), Mortars, and RPG's / Rifle-Launched Grenades. We took compounds when we could to have some protection against those threats, but many times were forced to use sub-optimal fighting positions with planned egress routes.

Without going into TTP's - you need to clear paths to the main force as well as egress routes prior to setting up shop, and have SBF PAX walk that route as they are not going to be able to receive instructions via radio or look at footprints while running under fire.

Having assets is great (UAS, SWT/AWT's) but our experience was that you can't rely on them. Get with your UAS people to make sure they know that their objective is not to be focused on the SBF element, but to be scanning around that area for enemy movement and communicate effectively to you if they encounter it.

Drills:

Range estimation, callouts, and above all correcting fires.

Callouts reign supreme. "Squirter - Door 3 left -> right to mudhut". Let LMG teams know priority target, egress point, direction of travel, suspected destination. This gave them time to observe, swivel, and burst them down while I was tracking& observing  target for BDA or kill-stealing.

Our LMG teams had the best success by firing slightly before their optic got on the dude running and letting the burst ride to 9-15 rounds as they tracked past him slowly. Odds are he would get tagged by at least one round and have his mobility reduced. It's a lot easier to shoot limping people than running ones, I'll take mobility kills all day. Pelvic shots were also good in that enemy movement was mostly in the legs / arms & chest when navigating uneven terrain - the waist tended to be a more consistent target.

Know that LMG teams can also cause enemy movement by flushing them out of cover. This was best done with 40mm in our experience, but can be accomplished ballistically as well. People don't like being pinned down with bullets cracking past them, the Untrained & Partially Trained try to get away from that ruckus. I'll always remember one engagement where I literally quoted Ghostbusters - "Egon, give me one burst high and outside. Ray, get ready to trap him when he takes off. Nice shootin', tex!"

"I came here for one reason: to attack and keep coming.- Ultimate Warrior

 

"Americans don't deserve America." - Timmy

The ODA at one of our sister element's COP's had them - they were fantastic for launching a salvo to either influence movement or saturate the area of a EWIA to make him reconsider his life choices. I was jealous, and not just because they reminded me of Predator.

While I liked the M320 over the M203 especially in standalone configuration, a significant drawback was time to re-engage target. Having to manually reload after every shot, re-acquire sight picture was a significant delay as opposed to an MGL where you could simply press the trigger up to 5 more times. You could train to a standard where you keep line of sight to your target, but the other steps you could only streamline and not eliminate entirely. Bad guys can get used to thumps every few seconds, they get more flustered with multiple impacts shaking their world in short order.

"I came here for one reason: to attack and keep coming.- Ultimate Warrior

 

"Americans don't deserve America." - Timmy

Good to see you posting Mick.  I hope you are feeling well at the moment.

It is better that they do it imperfectly than that you do it perfectly. For it is their war and their country and your time here is limited.

 

                                                                                                                        —T. E. Lawrence

 

 

POSREP: UAE

I'm a bit out of date and lane on Sniper operations but, this reminds me of 2007 or so.  After a well publicized incident in IRAQ our BC put into place a policy that our sniper teams were not allowed to deploy without attachments to include at minimum a SAW.  This really pissed our Snipers as it reduced their flexibility and it made it more difficult to sneak around.  Fast forward to the next deployment to Afghanistan and they made it work rather well.  The Sniper team would go out with a team from the scout platoon (better trained and selected ) and a specially selected Fire Support NCO they bagged a couple good targets (IED emplacers, HVT) . 

I guess what I am trying to say is, hand pick the people to work with the Sniper team and bring a Fister then have everyone train together.  You should also try to ping the Army Center for lessons learned or the USMC equivalent. 

I'll also say a as a SIGO, take a hard look at the commo plan and capabilities of the element.  Given what I am seeing here in Europe having a beyond line of sight (TACSAT) capability could be very important.  While a PRC-117 might max out the weigh capability of a 2 man team, your two section model could carry the PRC-117 and it's parts.  As with all commo, the training and competency of the operator is as or more important then the capability of the gear.

___________________________________________________________________

I'm either dead right, or horribly wrong. Either way the results should be entertaining.

 

"Shoot the MOTHERF$%^ER until he changes shape or catches fire"  the PAT ROGERS

I remember the Talibs using this tactic to excellent effect in RC-S around the 2010-11 timeframe.

Nice big bursts of auto PKM fire masking the precision aimed shots from Dragonovs or Lee Enfields. Seemed quite effective the first couple of times it was used against us, as the partner force by that point was almost completely ignoring the random bursts of long distance PKM we would receive. Ignoring might be the wrong word, complacent maybe. Some of the gun teams weren't the most accurate, but the rifle shots were.

Just food for thought.

__________________________

In 2004 I was a SAW gunner in a 5 man sniper team in Iraq.  My primary responsibility was security for the TL/ATL while on gun/obs respectively.  Mainly counter-IED/ambush & infantry overwatch.  The TL/ATL ran their mission, I and the 2 other team members handled security and alt. comms with higher, either co-located in the FFP or nearby on react/SBF.  Worked well after they engaged and we needed to exfil, and on a number of occasions where something kicked off close by and we needed the ass of the SAW as well as an additional 203 in the team (no MGL's at the time).  It was an additional mission planning step, and new to us, but we updated our SOP and adjusted accordingly. There was a push to beef up the numbers in sniper teams after 6 snipers (3, 2-man teams?) were executed (Fallujah?) and their rifles/comms taken after a compromise.  Based on my experience, unless running a true sneak/kill or dedicated target mission (rare for us), the extra security was not a hindrance to conducting missions.  The emphasis was not on SAW fires but those of the sniper element.

"That's a finger?  ICK!! Gross!" President G.W. Bush, to me, Nov. 2004

There is a lot to be learned from sniper teams that have been compromised as well. Open Source stuff as well as official reports. Open source stuff like this (keep in mind some things may not be true, such as replacing a lock that was mechanically breached) - http://www.iraqwarheroes.org/morley.htm

I would highly recommend sending an RFI to both CALL & AWG reference sniper teams being compromised. There are unfortunately a lot of parallels between occurrences with lessons that were learned in blood that future war fighters shouldn’t have to shed again. 

"I came here for one reason: to attack and keep coming.- Ultimate Warrior

 

"Americans don't deserve America." - Timmy

MickFury posted:

There is a lot to be learned from sniper teams that have been compromised as well. Open Source stuff as well as official reports. Open source stuff like this (keep in mind some things may not be true, such as replacing a lock that was mechanically breached) - http://www.iraqwarheroes.org/morley.htm

I would highly recommend sending an RFI to both CALL & AWG reference sniper teams being compromised. There are unfortunately a lot of parallels between occurrences with lessons that were learned in blood that future war fighters shouldn’t have to shed again. 

Thanks for posting - incredible story...

He was never any fun,

Now his grumpy race has run
Kisser blown to kingdom come

Oh, Surly Joe…

As usual, Mick (glad to see you're still kicking, brother) and jcustisredux bring up good points.  I would often task org my platoon in this manner (gun team + SDM), so I may be able to offer some insight...

1. Security- a fireteam (preferably the one that the SDM is organic to) gets sliced off to support this element, be it SBF/overwatch/whatever.  The fireteam is enough to provide local security (don't get too greedy) while the gun team and long gun are servicing targets or focused on observation.  Even better, you should plus it up with the Weapons SL and a FO if you can - now you've got ~9 dudes.  Good 'nuff.  BUT, remember you need to have another good-size element able to mutually support if needed.  In this regard, I find the gun+SDM  combo better used to overwatch a long(er) bound or route versus using it as a dedicated SBF (since the assault element will be too busy to support them during a platoon attack.) 

2. As with everything else, METT-TC dependent.  This task org is not a one size fits all solution.  As I already stated, I'd prefer a doctrinal SBF element for a true platoon attack/raid.  You could augment with a long gun, but I want both MGs, my PSG, 60mm handheld, etc.  Your mission/OBJ, good LOS, defensible terrain to occupy, cover/concealment, and enemy TTPs all factor in.  Recommendation is to have the gun team(s) train with the SDM(s) and associated fireteam(s) so that they can be attached/detached on the fly if - once you're actually on the ground - someone identifies that it's time to put this into practice mid-mission.

3. Training - As Mick correctly pointed out, a SDM/rifle squad or team will never be as effective as a sniper/spotter team.  Mitigate this by training.  If you have schoolhouse trained snipers in your unit, have them work with your SDMs and pick out a couple spotters they can train with regularly.  Even if you've got dudes that have been to school but are not in a sniper billet, they can be used as an asset to get your line SDMs up to speed.  We did this to excellent effect.  Shooting yes, but the shooter/spotter/MG team commo is probably most important.  Once we had some training done, it became apparent the lack of optics were our weak point.  I wrote to AmericanSnipers.org explaining the situation, what we were doing, and how we were handicapped.  Two brand new spotting scopes showed up in the mail about 2 weeks later (most likely from someone here on LF, but I could never figure out who).  Guns + glass + training = good to go.

3.1 More training - The drills, commo, and TTPs outlined by Mick above are legit.  Nothing I can add, simply use them.

4. POC's - In addition to AWG and CALL, try to hit up the Army Sniper School.  They used to put on a 2 week(?) leaders course for effective sniper employment ("SELC") that covered a lot of info germane to this discussion.  If they can push you some of the old briefings and instructional blocks, it should be helpful.  Unfortunately, they shut down the SELC course several years ago - I thought it was pretty useful for teaching O's how to not squander their sniper assets.

--Dave

 

"Do not touch anything unnecessarily. Beware of pretty girls in dance halls and parks who may be spies, as well as bicycles, revolvers, uniforms, arms, dead horses, and men lying on roads -- they are not there accidentally."

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