RANGER AGAINST WAR: The Green Reaper <

Monday, July 02, 2012

The Green Reaper

It is not our job to protect the people
from the consequences of their political choices

--Chief Justice John G. Roberts


Recent press indicates that military snipers are changing warfare, the implication being that snipers are instrumental in ushering in some new day for warfare. But is the role of sniper really anything new?

Before discussing the alleged special role of snipers in Counterinsurgency (COIN)
warfare, consider the role of snipers in conventional ground combat: Snipers create terror and kill people. Of course, Armies can accomplish the same things, so why do we have snipers? If we cannot kill the enemy with organic indirect fires, air support (to include aerial rocket artillery and artillery support), then we must kill them with our rifles.

When it comes down to a rifle duel, then we are fighting on the enemy's terms.
The philosophy of snipers in COIN is based on the "create terror" aspect of sniping rifle fire. To this Ranger says we are not engaged in combat to create terror and fear but rather to kill the enemy; in COIN, we have lost that focus.

Our 7.62 machine guns firing from T & E - tripod should kill targets easily at 1,100 meters, so why do we need snipers? Are we just not carrying and using tripods?

Yet the article opens with two PFC's shooting at targets: does a PFC have the maturity and solid technical knowledge to properly employ his rifle as a sniping tool? I served with and commanded many former snipers /while serving in U.S. Army Marksmanship units. Back in the 60's and 70's, Army snipers were experienced soldiers developed by long term service as professional shooters (Ranger graduated from Sniper School at Ft. Benning in 1973.)

Marine snipers are credited with spreading fear among the Taliban in southern Afghanistan in 2010, and by the end of their seven-month deployment in March 2011 one of the scout snipers observed, "They quit altogether".

Sadly, this rosy assessment is incorrect: The Taliban simply moved to other areas of operation, or ceased operating until the Marines moved on, and U.S. troops ALWAYS move on. Additionally, this function would be better performed by the Afghan National Army (ANA) assets. It is not our country and it does not matter if we scare them or kill them because we are going to leave the mess in our rear-view mirror.

"Their ability to deliver accurate shots minimizes collateral damage — a key factor in counterinsurgency . . ."

What does it matter if they kill with or without collateral damage? Are we so deluded as to think that killing in any form is the answer to Afghanistan's (or any areas) problems? Killing only perpetuates the cycle of violence.

U.S. commanders typically describe counterinsurgency as improving government and the economy and protecting the population. But killing hard-core elements of the insurgency helps persuade the population to join the winning side, military analysts say.

How does an Infantry unit improve any government or economy? Killing hardcore insurgents is not a guarantee of winning anyone's hearts or mind. After 10 years of war it seems no one is coming over to our side (not that we could define what that is.)

Tuesday: The Green Reaper II

Labels: , , , ,


Blogger PF Khans said...


All militaries have the same response to an enemy's attempt to thwart their plan; escalation.

The problem is that no one seems to notice that there are escalations that make sense and produce results and those that do not. Nobody can say for sure what the successful escalations will be, so the Army keeps at it until they find one that seems to work for a while.

My own experience is that insurgency reaches an equilibrium that can be very hard to shake. If it takes hold and you don't have the forces to sit on the rebellion you're left trying to either persuade people to take your money (in spite of the insecurity that is now all pervasive) or escalating the fire power you bring to bear on the insurgents to try and impress them out of attacking you.

Success is hard to come by, though, and usually you escalate too slowly and so the insurgent adapts and responds with even greater fury. You gun down on a gunman, the next day he comes back with a RPG. You respond with mortars, he responds with mortars. You respond with CAS, he responds with rockets. Almost every tactical victory we created/had was negated by our inability to actually convince those turds to stop attacking.

The only time escalation works (as I've seen it) is if you clearly threaten the lives of the locals with greater or equal force than the insurgents threaten, but don't actually alienate them by actually killing or wounding them. Its next to impossible to do intentionally, though, which is a good thing for the US Army because they don't understand this anyways.

The simple fact is that we are not escalating in a way that would make the Taliban quit. And if its not making them quit, we're wasting our time killing bodies.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 2:08:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Insurgency is all about governing in a legitimate manner.
Firepower does not = legitimacy.
I agree with your comments.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 9:16:00 AM GMT-5  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home