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Sgt. Ernest C. Browne, designated marksman for Security Forces Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5, takes aim on targets down range at Camp Korean Village, Iraq, Oct. 5. "Our weapons are the most important piece of gear we have, so taking the time to get it ready is vital to whatever mission we have," said Browne.::r::::n::

Photo by Cpl. Dean Davis

On Target: Scout snipers zero in

8 Oct 2008 | Cpl. Dean Davis

Of the infantry assets available to a commander, perhaps none are as unique as a scout sniper.  With the ability to work alone or as part of a larger unit, scout snipers provide a lot of flexibility for an infantry battalion, even one on wheels.

Scout snipers, originally riflemen with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5, practiced their trade and refined their weapons’ functions here Oct. 5.

“Zeroing the weapons, and having other Marines become familiar with them is a big part of our readiness,” said Sgt. Ernest C. Browne, designated marksman for Security Forces Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, 1st LAR Bn. “If I go down, or if something happens to me, my spotter needs to be able to take that weapon and use it, so everyone needs to know what’s going on.”

The battalion has had snipers in its ranks before, but the unit has never sent its own riflemen to sniper school until this year. Cpl. Zachary A. Lira was one of those riflemen sent to the school.

“The school has about a 60 percent attrition rate, so graduating feels pretty good,” said Lira, a scout sniper with Jump Platoon, H&S Co. “Now, with this job, being back in Iraq is great too. I was all smiles coming off the plane.”

Aside from his mission, Lira and the other Marines had more to smile about as Navy SEALs shared the range and the scout snipers had an opportunity to fire some unique weapons.

“It was great shooting with the SEALs and seeing how they train,” said Browne, 24, from Detroit. “For a minute there, I kind of wondered if I joined the wrong service.”

As the range continued, the Marines turned their attention back to the basics of marksmanship and an equally important job - the spotter.

“The spotter does pretty much everything,” said Lira, 21, from Apache Junction, Ariz. “He does the range estimation, identifies targets, makes wind calls and gives that information to the shooter.”

With that information, the shooter can to do his job, the elements of which were learned before any special schools.

“The fundamentals we as Marines have learned from the beginning, such as using bone support or the natural respiratory pause, are the same tools we use as snipers,” said Lira. “Other than the wind, most of the weather really just affects the shooter, so the fundamentals we’re practicing on this range need to be there.”


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