The Marine Corps produces some of the most aggressive, violent and disciplined combatants the world has seen. Marines pride themselves as being a part of a warrior culture. That is nevermore apparent than in the ranks of the Scout Sniper community with a legacy stretching back to Vietnam, The Marine Scout Sniper hasbeen instrumental in changing the tides of many battles. With such revered alumni like Carlos Hathchcock and Chuck Mawhinney, the younger generations have a lot to live up to, and based upon their current reputation, they do just fine.
Although the sniper’s role in combat has varied throughout the years, Surveillance and Target Acquisition have been the meat and potatoes of their employment. Scout Snipers have always been born of their perspective parent units and have been in direct support of said units. Even the snipers in the reconnaissance community are organic to theirown units. Although coming from and working for your home unit has its advantages such as established relationships and an explicit understanding of the “chain of command” (and how to circumvent it), there are plenty of disadvantages as well.
One of the biggest disadvantages to a Scout Sniper mission is the constant misconceptions embedded in the minds of their command as to what snipers actually do. It not uncommon for a sniper to hear: “Hey, why don’t you get on that water tower? It’s about eight stories high. You should see everything from there- no problem, or better yet get in that TREE.” Often the biggest issue is the fact that a sniper team has no brass to support their decisions and protect them from the typicalegotistical inexperienced members of the officer cadre and their squirrelly ideas. Too many times a team leader has to compromise on missions that come from higher in order to be allowed to conduct the missions which were more impactful. (On more than one occasion I found myself ghillied up, somewhere in the middle of a farm, observing and reporting onillegal goat milk smuggling.)
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