Written by U.S. Army Sgt. Matthew Thompson, RC-East PAO 09 January 2012
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Twelve Afghan National Army soldiers from the 201st Afghan National Army Corps endured harsh wintery conditions for the chance to earn the elite title of sniper after a three-week training course at Forward Operating Base Gamberi.
The French Infantry Mobile Training Team, led by French army Capt. Jean Michel Filipi, trained the Afghan soldiers on the U.S. Army M24 Sniper Weapon System and the Russian SVD-137 Dragunov sniper rifle.
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan—An Afghan National Army sniper peers through the scope of his M24 Sniper Weapon System during the sniper training course at Forward Operating Base Gamberi, Dec. 21. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew Thompson, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
“These soldiers embodied the sniper motto of ‘one shot, one kill’,” said Filipi.
The Afghan snipers learned advanced shooting techniques such as how to approximate distances, how to adjust their windage and how to report basic intelligence.
Afghan Sgt. Ajab-ullah, Intelligence Company, 4th Kandak, 3rd Brigade, earned top shot of the class.
“I am very happy that I got the first position,” Ajab-ullah said humbly. “When I get back to my Kandak, I will train my fellow soldiers in the sniper skills and make them as good a shooter as myself.”
This is the first sniper course that the French MTT has facilitated and the first that the 201st ANA Corps has received and conducted. The course curriculum was developed from feedback of the trainees, commanders in the field, and the unit requirements for target interdiction and intelligence gathering.
“[Since] this is the first sniper course, like most firsts, there are always bugs in the system” said Master Sgt. Yomar Barthelemy, senior French sniper trainer. “The coordination, weapons, logistic requirements to support the range and the class are evolving and will be less stressful the next class.”
Trained snipers play an important role in fighting insurgents due to Afghanistan’s mountainous terrain, and being able to engage the enemy at a distance adds a combat multiplier for any Afghan Army unit, according to Rodney Kennedy, civilian mentor with the FOB Gamberi Tactical Action Center.
“If you can hit a target at 600 meters, it’s no problem to hit a target at 1,000 meters,” said Kennedy.
The sniper course is one in a series of training courses offered by the 201st ANA Corps at FOB Gamberi. The training at the FOB is intended to teach Afghan soldiers new skills, tactics, techniques and procedures, develop leadership characteristics and create a sustainable cycle that the ANA will maintain after transition.