Being a sniper is one of the most difficult jobs in the armed forces, requiring a high level of mathematical and scientific knowledge, considerable calmness under pressure and – ultimately – the willingness to pull a trigger and shoot someone.
That obviously means that those who do make it through the recruitment and training process have to be the best of the best, forged in fire to perform in one of the most intricate and dangerous theatres of combat out there.
For those within the US Army’s elite sniper school, that means passing through a series of challenges, culminating in one final test that proves they are ready for the battlefield.
In a documentary called Modern Sniper: Army, the last part of the process was explained.
At the US Army’s elite ‘sniper school’ in Fort Benning, Georgia, those who have the necessary skills put their scientific, mathematical, and field-craft skills to the test before heading out to combat.
Before they are deemed ready for that, they must complete a 12-hour mission simulation.
That means that for half a day they will be embedded as if they were on real combat activities, split into six-man teams in order to perform a successful insertion, before attempting to take out a high-value target, but only should the correct moment arise for that before extracting at dawn.
One of the sniper instructors explained: “The mission is going to start off with a plan.
“They’re going to receive a mission planning folder with the higher mission ops.
“They’re going to go ahead and plan everything – insertion, infill, exfill, [infiltrate and exfiltrate] everything like that – they’re going to have certain things they’re going to be looking for like high-value targets, key personnel that we know are terrorists that they can engage.
“They’ll sneak into their position, set up in their position without being detected, and then they’ll engage or report anything they see.”
Then, the team select their equipment from what is available to them – an incredibly important choice – before heading off on their way.
Another instructor explained: “You’ve got to stay focused.
“If you don’t you get compromised, you can lose your train of thought, you could fall asleep, anything could happen when you’re not focused.
“But, when you’re focused, you’re ready for anything.”
These are all skills that the snipers must learn at sniper school before they can be unleashed into a combat situation.
If they haven’t mastered their skills by this final test, they’re unlikely to take them to war with them.
That makes what they learn at sniper school incredibly valuable and explains why so few candidates ultimately make it through to the battlefield