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Multinational Sniper Teams Train for Urban Environments

By Army Sgt. Karen Sampson, Joint Multinational Readiness Center

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HOHENFELS, Germany, June 5, 2017 — A visit to a local cafe is a boost for the human spirit, whether lured in by the ambiance, maybe to enjoy the camaraderie of friends, or enticed by savory smells and craving a bite to eat from the kitchen. It's a familiar, busy space where communal goals are simple, satisfaction is expected and needs are easily met.

A sniper team engages a target in a neighboring building from a hidden shooting site in a cafe's kitchen during Urban Sniper Course training in Hohenfels, Germany, May 23, 2017. About 20 soldiers from 12 international special operations sniper teams participated in the International Sniper Training Course at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center's Training Area. Army photo by Sgt. Karen Sampson
A sniper team engages a target in a neighboring building from a hidden shooting site in a cafe's kitchen during Urban Sniper Course training in Hohenfels, Germany, May 23, 2017. About 20 soldiers from 12 international special operations sniper teams participated in the International Sniper Training Course at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center's Training Area. Army photo by Sgt. Karen Sampson
A sniper team engages a target in a neighboring building from a hidden shooting site in a cafe's kitchen during Urban Sniper Course training in Hohenfels, Germany, May 23, 2017. About 20 soldiers from 12 international special operations sniper teams participated in the International Sniper Training Course at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center's Training Area. Army photo by Sgt. Karen Sampson Multinational Sniper teams merge with urban sprawl at Hohenfels
A sniper team engages a target in a neighboring building from a hidden shooting site in a cafe's kitchen during Urban Sniper Course training in Hohenfels, Germany, May 23, 2017. About 20 soldiers from 12 international special operations sniper teams participated in the International Sniper Training Course at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center's Training Area. Army photo by Sgt. Karen Sampson

The comforting, busy environment serves as a perfect cloak for a two-man sniper team hidden in a bar service kitchen, strategically in line with targets in a neighboring building. A hand-woven lace curtain barely moves as the target is neutralized.

Building hidden sites is one of the many skills sniper teams practiced during the 11-day International Special Training Center’s Urban Sniper Course at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center’s training area here.

Enabled by Special Operations Command Europe, and supported by JMRC’s Wolverine Special Operations Forces Observer Coach/Trainer Team, 12 sniper teams from multiple NATO special operations forces participated in the course May 19-30. The course instructors were assigned to the 7th Army Training Command.

The course prioritizes teamwork, communication and tactical movement during day and night operations within the landscape of select urban operations sites.

“ISCT conducts the Urban Sniper Course in simulated cities in JMRC’s training area due to the complexity of infrastructure [and] the details of buildings and interiors,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Ross, urban sniper course instructor and ISTC operations noncommissioned officer. “The students learn to use normal, everyday, on-hand assets as part of their mobility and as building tools towards engaging specific targets.”

Sharing Knowledge

Sniper teams from special operations forces representing Germany, the United Kingdom, Norway, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Greece and Switzerland spent 172 class hours learning against a detailed backdrop and accurate representation of the current, real-world operational environment. 

Snipers engage 100-meter targets through glass panels on the first live-fire day of Urban Sniper Course in Hohenfels, Germany, May 20, 2017. Army photo by Sgt. Karen Sampson
Snipers engage 100-meter targets through glass panels on the first live-fire day of Urban Sniper Course in Hohenfels, Germany, May 20, 2017. Army photo by Sgt. Karen Sampson
Snipers engage 100-meter targets through glass panels on the first live-fire day of Urban Sniper Course in Hohenfels, Germany, May 20, 2017. Army photo by Sgt. Karen Sampson Multinational Sniper teams merge with urban sprawl at Hohenfels
Snipers engage 100-meter targets through glass panels on the first live-fire day of Urban Sniper Course in Hohenfels, Germany, May 20, 2017. Army photo by Sgt. Karen Sampson

A Dutch army sergeant first class attending the course said he plans to use the knowledge he acquired to help develop a sniper program at the Dutch Army’s marksman academy.

“We are using the course to refine our abilities and enhance our performance as a team,” said a special operations senior NCO and instructor from the Dutch army marksman school. “What skills and training we learn here we will use to advance our curriculum.”

The sniper teams are progressing through individual classes, and in the final days of the course there will be a cumulative, scenario-driven tactical field exercise. Each team will perform three missions over three nights, integrating all their new skills while navigating through a cityscape of complex obstacles and being confronted with various unpredictable events.

“The teams will plan and conduct several live-fire missions [while remaining] conscious of notional civilian populace and use operation orders notionally enabled by the needs of other armed force units,” Ross said.

Through this training, snipers are better able to see the urban landscape as toolbox for tactical movement and camouflage, giving them a whole new outlook when they enter the same cafe.