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thedrifter
06-12-04, 07:24 AM
Snipers learn new way to shoot
Submitted by: 11th MEU
Story Identification #: 2004611192344
Story by Cpl. Matthew S. Richards



SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii(June 5, 2004) -- Aside from one well-aimed shot ripping through the quiet air, Scout Sniper Platoon, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), learned a way to shoot without ever touching a rifle.

Using Canon 10D digital cameras, the 20 Marines of Scout Sniper Platoon learned to shoot photos during sustainment training here, June 3-5, on their way to Iraq to conduct security and stability operations.

The Marine Air Ground Task Force Secondary Imagery Dissemination System (MSIDS) is a new way for reconnaissance units to take pictures of a location and send them back to decision makers via radio.

"It's going to change the whole way snipers operate," said 1st Lt. James H. Madrinan, Scout Sniper Platoon commander. "Before, field sketches were used."

Field sketches are detailed side views or overhead matrices on graph paper where the artist has to convey the drawing square by square over the radio, or wait until he returns to show what was observed. The entire process would typically take two to four hours.

"Now with this capability, we can take a picture, label the azimuth and direction and send it," Madrinan said.

Reconnaissance battalions and Force Reconnaissance companies already rate the system in their issued gear, and now as a result of Operation Iraqi Freedom, every sniper team will have one also.

"It was such an asset in OIF, data was being transferred at such a high rate," said Read Myer, a former recon Marine with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, and now a MSIDS Suite instructor. "It helped get information on the battlefield back so much faster."

The information can be transported as quickly as the Marine can take a picture, label it and send it back on one of the many radios the Marine Corps uses.

"It paints such a better picture of the battlefield," Madrinan said. "Company commanders can change their scheme of maneuver based on a few pictures."

The Marines of Scout Sniper Platoon prefer the quicker, more accurate snapping of pictures over sketching an area.

"When transferring sketches you might be on two different sheets of music, but with this you can't mess it up," said Sgt. Randolf N. Revert, chief scout sniper for the platoon. "A picture says a thousand words."

Although it may sound unusual for snipers to go out to take pictures and not shoot their rifles, scout snipers are more of a surveillance asset for battalions and are not always called upon to pinpoint a target in one shot, according to Madrinan.

"Just because they're scout snipers doesn't mean they're always on a shooting mission," Madrinan said. "For the most part, up in Iraq, most snipers were used just like recon."

However, Mandrinan says even with the new equipment what they present to the decision makers doesn't automatically offer a quick answer.

"We don't provide intelligence. We provide information," he said.

Still, even with the new cameras and transmitting equipment, Marines continue to learn the old way of sketching out their scene.

"All this high speed stuff sounds great, but you still have to know the basics," Revert said. "Machines can break."

Despite new surveillance gear and high-powered rifles, the scout snipers modestly accept their role in helping the Marine Corps win its battles. They don't consider themselves better than normal infantry despite their more specialized training. They're just another part of the team.

"In all actuality my job is to protect the grunts," Revert said.

According to Myer, in his experience as a recon Marine, he also attributes the bulk of the job to the grunts.

"They're the guys who are going to take ground and make it friendly territory," he said.

Revert described a situation where they would support the infantry, such as a vehicle checkpoint where a suspicious car was parked right next to a group of Marines. According to him, that car could contain an improvised explosive device or it could hold insurgents waiting to ambush the Marines, who may be busy searching Iraqis at the VCP.

"We have to watch for that and be able to take (the enemy) down if we need to," he said.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/image1.nsf/Lookup/2004611194934/$file/040604-M-4358R-023lowres.jpg

Sergeant Randolf N. Revert, chief scout sniper for Scout Sniper Platoon, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), practices sending pictures on the Marine Air Ground Task Force Secondary Imagery Dissemination System (MSIDS) during sustainment training here, June 3-5. Photo by: Cpl. Matthew S. Richards


http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/image1.nsf/Lookup/2004611203525/$file/040604-M-4358R-090lowres.jpg

Marines from Scout Sniper Platoon, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), practice immediate action drills as a part of sustainment training here, June 3-5. Photo by: Cpl. Matthew S. Richards

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/606C55FA0B85082A85256EB000808441?opendocument


Ellie