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1/2 scout snipers hone stalking, killing skills

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (March 18, 2008) -- Scout snipers with Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, successfully completed a three-day field event here, March 17 through 19.


2nd Marine Division
Story by Lance Cpl. Scott Schmidt

Marines sharpened their individual and team proficiency with the M107 .50 caliber Long Range Sniper Rifle while firing at known and unknown distances.

“This training is so the Marines can understand proper adjustments,” said 2nd Lt. Steven Kleppin the Scout Sniper platoon commander. “There are so many variables, like wind and fog, to a sniper rifle because you’re firing at targets greater than 1,000 yards away.”

Throughout the three days, Marines practiced stalking and reconnaissance skills, firing at extreme distances and creating trust within the team.

A sniper team is comprised of two Marines, a shooter and a spotter. The spotter settles in the prone position behind the shooter, making wind calls and directing the shooter on target.

“The spotter has the most important position in the team,” said Cpl. Andreas Owens, an assaultman with the company. “They make the calls while the shooter just needs to focus on the fundamentals.”

Trust is important within a sniper team. According to Owens, a sniper team has a very close relationship when compared to other infantry teams due to the nature of their training and their mission.

The snipers are currently training for the battalion’s upcoming deployment to Iraq where they’ll be responsible for surveillance and reconnaissance to gather intelligence.

“We are the forefront of intelligence collection,” said Owens, who deployed as a scout sniper last year. “Iraq is always changing and we are out there all the time to make sure intelligence is up-to-date.”

Owens added Iraqis make slight changes in their every day actions when they know Marines are there but, “that’s when the snipers come in and get the intelligence, when they act natural and may not know they are being watched.”

The snipers are trained to be ready for any experience, Kleppin said. It’s important to continually sharpen the skills of a scout sniper in order to maintain the platoon’s proficiency.

The battalion is set to participate in the Mojave Viper field exercise where scout snipers and the rest of the battalion sharpen all the skills needed for a successful deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.