It’s not everyday that someone in the family graduates, and then it’s an even more rare occasion that someone graduates the Army Sniper Course held at Ft Moore, Columbus GA. Recently I was privileged to attend a graduation held there and came away with some impressions about the course and the people conducting it.
The course itself is very understated in what it does. It’s purpose is to develop Snipers to be adaptive, critical thinkers, armed with the technical, tactical, and logistical skills necessary to plan and execute precision long-range, direct rifle fire against enemy targets while serving as a member of a Sniper Team.
It’s a 29-day resident course with learning activities that focus development on the following areas: Field Craft, and Marksmanship. During Field Craft the students explore and develop an understanding of advanced camouflage techniques, use of hides (urban and rural terrain), terrain utilization, concealed movement, range estimation/determination techniques, target detection using target indicators and how to remain undetected by eliminating target indicators. During Marksmanship instruction the students practice and develop an understanding of proper body positioning, application of the Direct Fire Engagement Process, use of a ballistic calculator, known and unknown distance firing at stationary and moving targets during daylight and limited visibility, including rapid target engagements. It’s open to Active Duty, Reserve and National Guard personnel, from certain Infantry fields, ranked E3 to E6. All students are volunteers with a good physical profile rating and have a good performance record with no history of alcohol or drug abuse. I can also state for reference that some Commands will initiate their own “test” prior to recommending someone and obtaining a billet for them.
The Graduation itself was understated but that is much like the people they train are. You shouldn’t expect an all out flowery pomp and circumstance ceremony from a school that trains people to blend into the background and remain hidden until mission completion. That being said though it was poignant and memorable. The guest speaker was an alumni graduate and spoke of something very important, the trust a new graduate must gain and keep with their Commander. He spoke of the mission being very important and so many lives that will be saved with the Intel a Sniper will report back and/or by a target being eliminated. But again, all done by completing hours and sometimes days of concealment with the goal of mission accomplishment, and keeping the trust.
In the end, the successful Snipers have an over-arching sense of duty and a reason for doing what they do. And we are all the better for it.