Subject: Request to implement an Infantry Sniper or Warrant Officer Infantry Sniper MOS, and to approve the wear of a sniper tab for qualified soldiers.
Army snipers are the uncontested experts at precision long range target elimination and likewise of the collection of key battlefield information. While the Army has found a great deal of success in the employment of battlefield snipers, there are nonetheless two key issues that could be addressed to 1) allow the qualified sniper the opportunity to attain the recognition that he deserves for both graduating from one of the most physically and mentally demanding courses in the Army only to serve in one of the most challenging and difficult duty positions in the Infantry, and 2) to allow snipers the autonomy to be more effectively employed by combatant commanders, while simultaneously using the experience gained by qualified snipers to add to the effectiveness of the sniper duty position by creating a career-oriented MOS.
1) Approval of the Sniper Tab
Snipers have been a valuable asset to combatant commanders for decades. Serving in a dual role as both valuable force multipliers, and expertly trained reconnaissance experts, snipers have significantly contributed to the success of many missions, in many combat situations. Because the mission requirements of the sniper are so rigorous, the training itself is equally as rigorous setting the stage for only highly qualified, motivated, and disciplined individuals to be able to add the B4 additional skill identifier to their MOS.
However, in a United States Army which proudly awards tabs and badges for nearly every Army school, the sniper is as of yet not recognized for having graduated from one of the most difficult courses that the United States Army has to offer, nor is he recognized for serving in one of the most demanding duty positions in the infantry, save for the addition of an additional skill identifier.
The Army currently awards Airborne, Air Assault, Pathfinder, SCUBA diver, HALO, Expert Infantryman, Expert Field Medical, Explosive Ordinance Disposal, Aviator and combat badges (to name a few), along with Special Forces, Ranger, President’s Hundred, and (most recently) Sapper tabs to qualified individuals in order to recognize a level of competence in training based on the successful completion of a particular course of instruction. It is highly time that the Army begins to award the Sniper tab to qualified graduates of the Army Sniper (B4 producing) School as well.
With the approval of the Sapper tab, many snipers began to converse about why the Sniper tab was not also authorized for wear. While the vast majority would approve of wearing the tab, a few key arguments have been made, primarily by those not sniper qualified, which are addressed as follows:
“Being a sniper is not something that you want to advertise, as a sniper is a priority target for other snipers, not to mention that if you were captured, you may be more severely tortured because of your status as a sniper.”
o While at first glance this may seem like a valid argument, for any qualified sniper it is a ridiculously moot point for the following reasons.
No qualified sniper would wear any tab or badge of any kind into a combat environment, much less a sniper tab. Snipers have “stripped” their uniforms in combat environments even when it was more difficult to do so with the sewn on badges and tabs of the older BDU’s. With the approval of the ACU with its accompanying pin on badges and Velcro tabs, the task of stripping the uniform is made that much easier.
A sniper who is employed as a sniper will be wearing a type of camouflage (if not a ghillie suit) which would prohibit the detection of any badges or tabs by enemy combatants anyway, should the sniper be poorly trained enough to choose to wear badges and tabs into combat.
Though snipers are taught to conceal the M24 sniper rifle as much as possible in order to hide their identities as snipers when traveling with an infantry formation, should a sniper be foolish enough to wear a tab into combat, an M24 is far more difficult to conceal than a sniper tab is. Certainly if an enemy sniper is close enough to make out the writing on the tab of a possible target, such a sniper would likewise also be close enough to verify the weapon being carried by the sniper as an M24.
If a sniper is captured in combat while in the sniper duty position, such a sniper would also likely be captured with sniper associated camouflage, spotting scope, and M24 sniper rifle, all of which would give the duty position of the sniper away much more so than a tab, which, again, would not be worn into combat by a qualified sniper.
Finally, being a qualified sniper is not something that should be hidden from comrades. A sniper has a wealth of knowledge and training in marksmanship, reconnaissance, camouflage, range estimation, target detection, and many other key skills which are of great assistance in aiding and assisting fellow infantry soldiers as they attempt to become more skilled infantryman.
“Sniper school is not a school that is worthy of a tab.”
o While this argument is trivial and discriminatory, it nonetheless deserves a response as well, simply because sniper school is certainly a school worthy of a tab.
Sniper school is a very difficult school to be selected to attend. In order to be selected, a soldier must first be selected for a scout/reconnaissance platoon that has a sniper mission. Once selected, potential candidates must then pass a series of tests, to include a psychological evaluation and expert marksman qualification (twice) just to be accepted to the course.
Sniper training is grueling, both mentally and physically, and the attrition rate is a respectable one.
Graduates of the Army Sniper School have received a level of training that forever changes their proficiency as soldiers, greatly increasing their expertise in a variety of key areas.
For these reasons, the sniper tab should be approved for wear immediately, in order to properly recognize some of the Army’s most highly skilled and trained soldiers.
2) Implementation of a Sniper MOS
Snipers endure a great deal in order to graduate from Sniper training and earn the B4 additional skill identifier. Upon completion of sniper training, snipers have attained a level of skill and expertise which ensures their success in the extremely demanding sniper duty position. While many snipers would prefer to remain in the sniper duty position for the duration of their careers, most are normally eventually counseled to return to the “line” infantry in order to gain the appropriate amount of experience in order to be promoted. While this action, in many cases, serves to destroy the motivation of qualified snipers, it likewise ensures that the experience gained by qualified and seasoned snipers is not put to its most effective, which would be to allow those experienced snipers to remain in Scout platoons and sniper duty positions.
There is no need to re-invent the wheel and no need to continually take trained and experienced snipers out of the sniping/reconnaissance environment. At the very least, the Army should follow the successful example of the United States Marine Corps and approve a separate MOS (perhaps 11S) for school trained and qualified snipers. Such snipers would serve in Scout platoons for the duration of their careers, qualifying to be expertly trained Scout Platoon Sergeants at the rank of E-7, and HHC First Sergeants at the rank of E-8. Such an implementation would ensure that sniper motivation remains high, but more importantly that the experience gained by qualified and seasoned snipers is not simply lost when those snipers leave Scout platoons to return to the “line” so that they can achieve their next rank.
3) Implementation of a Sniper Warrant Officer MOS
As a graduate of both the U.S. Army Sniper School (and a 10th Mountain Division Sniper), and Warrant Officer Candidate School, I can speak well to both of these experiences. The Army should consider the suggestion to not simply create a new Sniper MOS, but to create a far more effective Warrant Officer Sniper MOS (perhaps 110A).
Sniping is a position that requires maturity, experience, discipline, and a great deal of autonomy. Many combatant commanders are hesitant to employ sniper teams as effectively as they could, for fear of sending a sniper qualified, but low ranking team (sometimes comprised of E-4’s and E-3’s) on a mission without supervision.
Creating a Warrant Officer Sniper MOS would greatly alleviate the fears of combatant commanders, by providing seasoned, trained, qualified and technically specialized Warrant Officers to fill the sniper duty position Such Warrant Officer Snipers could then be tasked with autonomous missions, whereby more efficiently and effectively employing the sniper teams and utilizing fewer assets.
Scout platoons could be re-organized into Sniper platoons, filled with qualified sniper Warrant Officers (W-1/W-2) in perhaps 4 to 6 two man teams, led by a W-3 Assistant Platoon Leader, and W-4/W-5 Platoon Leader. Because snipers are not only highly qualified long range target elimination specialists, but also extremely highly qualified long range target detection / battlefield information collection specialists, one two-man sniper team can effectively gather key battlefield information from a greater distance (due to the nature of sniper optics as compared to scout team optics) than a five-man scout team is capable of. This would allow combatant commanders the opportunity to utilize more highly qualified and fewer soldiers to effectively accomplish a given reconnaissance/sniper mission.
Sniping/Reconnaissance also require a high level of maturity and discipline. While E-3’s and E-4’s are currently authorized to attend Sniper School, the creation of a sniper Warrant Officer MOS could allow for a series of prerequisites which would ensure that snipers are more seasoned and experienced soldiers. Sniper pre-requisites could include:
Pay grade of E-5 to E-7
Not older than X years of age at time of graduation from Sniper Training
A Warrant Officer Sniper training pipeline could look something like the following:
Submission of a packet to the Warrant Officer selection board, complete with all of the necessary criteria to be selected for Sniper Training
Acceptance by the WO selection board
Attendance to and graduation from Warrant Officer Candidate School
Follow on training to Sniper School, which would serve as the Warrant Officer Basic Course for Warrant Officer Snipers.
Upon completion of Sniper School, the Warrant Officer would be MOS qualified.
Creation of a Warrant Officer sniper MOS would also allow for the inclusion of the Sniper Employment Officer course as a required component of the Warrant Officer Advanced Course for Sniper Warrant Officers, whereby ensuring that all officers tasked with employing Snipers in combat are Sniper qualified, and have likewise been given proper advanced training in the employment of Sniper teams. Sniper Warrant Officers would then serve out their careers in Scout/Sniper/Reconnaissance platoons. Such a career option would offer:
Qualified Warrant Officer Snipers the opportunity to remain in the career fields which they love, are motivated about, and have trained for.
Qualified snipers the opportunity to be ranked and compensated as Warrant Officers for a job which is highly technical and extremely demanding.
Qualified snipers the opportunity to retire as Warrant Officers.
Combatant Commanders the opportunity to have a platoon of highly skilled, seasoned, experienced reconnaissance/target elimination specialists with enough rank and training to be utilized autonomously in the capacity in which snipers are most effective.
The Army may choose to disregard these suggestions, but as a qualified, seasoned, and experienced sniper, scout team leader, and honor graduate of the Warrant Officer Candidate School, I sincerely hope that these suggestions will be given the attention that they deserve. Snipers are an extremely valuable asset to commanders and to the Army and should be recognized for their accomplishment and duty status, as are other soldiers in the Army. Likewise, a more efficient method of employing snipers including a new MOS, or more effectively a new Warrant Officer MOS would be of great benefit to the United States Army.
Former U.S. Army Scout Team Leader and Sniper (B4) and graduate of WOCS
1st Bn, 87th Infantry Regiment
10th Mountain Division (LI)This message has been edited. Last edited by: SgtScraper,
It'll never get approved. It makes too much sense.
Have you read the series in SOF about the misuse of Snipers in Iraq? Good reading, but depressing.
I agree, on both counts. Haven't read that series, but that would be par for the course. The army hasn't figured out how to use it's snipers yet as effectively as it should.
It was about a four part series earlier this year. Just for grins, you might contact them to get the back issues.
Theres a great many people out there who deserve, want a tab of their own, and all have good reasons.
Easy answer? You know who you are, those you work with should know your character you shouldn't need a tab.
My opinopn; skill badges, thats why their called skill dadges. And with the ACU's your not supposed to wear them in the field so a sniper being targeted in the field is not a issue; not that a ghillie suit /other sniper equiptment wouldn't give it away already.
I agree with 95% of the points you brought up. Frankly I'm tired of hiding my coveted Sniper Tab under the pocket flap of my ACU's.
I still think that Sniper School should be open to E-3's and E-4's, since a Sniper Team is all about Junior Leadership and grooming them early is key to making great Sniper Team Leaders by the time they hit E-5. Also, the age limit thing rubs me the wrong way a bit, I'm a Guardsman, who is proud at having graduated Sniper School at the age of 40, when only 25 of the original 61 students in my class did. After graduation, I served a tour of combat in Iraq. From my point of view, my age, and added judgement and experience served me well as a Sniper Team Leader in combat.
In Iraq, I took on the most dangerous of missions, often after having to butt heads with the command, whose ignorance of what the true capabilities and limitations of the Sniper Team are put my team's life in uneeded jeapordy more than once.
The display of the Sniper Tab, and the recognition of a specific MOS, would go a long way in legitimizing our profession. Hopefully, that would lead to better employments and increased effectiveness on the battlefield.
For those who think Snipers should remain, a second class secret society, please keep in mind, our main task is providing increased safety and security to conventional forces on the ground. We are the Guardian Angels of the Infantry.
Now, where do I sign the petition to get the Pentagon's and Congress' attention to the problem?
Sgt. U.S.ARMY, Infantry Sniper, Iraq Combat Veteran
Thanks for the input. As for the age thing...I would be in agreement with you, which is why I marked it with an X...not something i would want to be the one to determine.
I sent this off to a lot of people in high places...but obviously don't expect them to pay any attention to it (though I wish they would.)
Nicely written SGTScraper!
Regarding the creation of an enlisted sniper MOS, I don't know.
First, our Scouts/Snipers were drawn from the best of the Battalion. By creating another MOS (11S for example), would you be limiting access for qualified/able individuals to these positions?
What happens when the Scouts are under strength?
Can they no longer draw from the available pool of 11B's if there is creation of another MOS field?
We had much respect for our Scouts and the mission. But back in garrison, they tended to be treated differently (read that as better) and sometimes got to sham a little too much. So occasionally, our CoC would shake things up, send a few scouts to the line and send fresh bodies/minds to the scouts. That’s not a bad idea IMO because it keeps everyone sharp, let’s people gain new experience and lets the knowledgeable guys share their experience (I learned to make a proper ghillie suit from a former scout sent to my squad).
Skill Identifier I totally understand, another MOS? I want to hear more.
Concerning the Sniper tab. I support that and wish you good luck in getting it approved. I personally don't agree w/ it though because I feel the Army has way too many doo-dads. But I totally agree w/ your stance and feel that’s a legitimate request.
Our Snipers were assigned at Company level. But, we never took the rifles to the boonies. They stayed locked up in the Arms Room.
We'd send two guys from each platoon to Sniper School, at Ft bragg. It was a good course. After that, the guys were just plugged back into their platoon.
Even when we went to Camp Lejeune for "Combat in Built Up Areas" training, the forerunner of MOUT, we left the M21s behind. Back then, Ft Bragg didn't have a MOUT area. Well, there was Hay Street but that's another story.
About every six months, the Snipers would have to do a mini-qual with the Sniper School Cadre. But that was it.
I always thought employment of Snipers should have been an ARTEP Task.
Nicely written SGT Scraper
We tried that with the Light Infantry tab
it didn't work
i have yet to actually meet a real "sniper" (who is doing the traditional job), overseas or at home. Everybody is just playing the role of the sharpshooter. And im sure so are you.
The only time ive heard of two snipers going out as a duo outside the FOB by themselves hidden; was in Fallujah... two Marine Snipers who both fell asleep and then had their throats slit and equipment stolen.
i wouldnt go as far as saying that Sniper School should earn you a SNiper Tab. But i think SOTIC should definitely.
Great idea, lets give everyone some sort of tab. They'd look great with the berets we gave everyone too. Why do so many want a badge or some other widget or decoration for every little thing they do in the Army? Are you doing things in the service because you want to or for the badges? Hey, how about we start putting wreaths on Air Assault wings because I went to Fast Rope master and have fast roped lord knows how many times. Give me a break.....rant over
I was stationed at Fort Wainwright, and there was talk there of an "Arctic" tab, like the 10th Mountain's "Mountain" tab. I dunno, all seemed kind of silly to me. I mean WE knew we were the best unit in the Army, didn't need a tab to rpove it haha. But yeah, I dunno if snipers should or should not have a tab, but it sure as hell wont make you tougher in combat or whatever.
Artic tab? Thats about the gayest thing ever. That's essentially a tab based on where your unit is stationed.
I've never really understood the whole need to subdivide units either. The Army should start nixing this policy immedtially if they wish to beat back this uniform doo-dad mentality.Example- 101st Airborne
Thats exactly my point. You KNEW you were the best and didn't need a badge, tab or whatnot to prove it. Just seems to me were getting to wrapped around gadgets for our uniforms that tell people how "great" we are. If you're so great let your actions speak for you.
I vote for any Ft. Benning unit to have a Humid tab.
Here we go: Sniper, Mountain, Light Infantry, Artic, Humid, Rainbow, Jungle......
Great, sign me up for all of those.
You'd have to create two Benning Tab's. The other one being the "OSUT/BCT" tab. Or we could just call it the Cherry tab.
I vote to create a Swamp tab for Ft. Bragg and a "BFE" (Butt Fuc.k. Eygpt) tab for Ft. Irwin.
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