Marines changing rifle marksmanship training, eliminate Scout Sniper school

| December 30, 2023

Seems the Marines have decided to update their marksmanship training due to a large study done on the subject. Sounds like though they have over 80% of the Corps qualifying as “Expert” on static ranges, they want more real-world skillsets to come out of training. Complacency seems to be the watchword – with so many qualifying as “expert”, why fix what ain’t broke?

Several shooting challenges were isolated as pain points for the Marine Corps, including shooting at night, hitting moving targets, and leading targets, or aiming in front of a target so the bullet trajectory intersects with the target’s travel path, according to multiple sources who reviewed the full Marine Corps Rifle Marksmanship Lethality Capabilities-Based Assessment report.

The service rolled out a new rifle qualification program in 2021 that required Marines to wear combat gear, hit moving targets and fire on targets in sequence. It was challenging enough that the Corps this year changed policy to give more Marines a chance to shoot expert if they missed it the first time.

The new ASALTs (advanced small arms lethality trainers, ed.), however, will give Marines a chance to train regularly on scenarios too complex or dangerous to execute on a range, such as “shoot/don’t-shoot” dilemmas and high-pressure, rapidly changing decision-making drills that introduce more of the stressors of combat.

“You can’t train that at scale [on a range],” Hamilton said.  Marine Times

Space constraints dictate “read the linked article” .  It’s interesting.

And, on what I would have to call the down side – December 15 the Marines graduated the last 8 students from Scout Sniper school.

The graduation marks the end of a long era that stretches back as far as World War I, when the Marine Corps first used scout snipers, according to retired Master Sgt. Tim Parkhurst, CEO of the USMC Scout Sniper Association.

In February, the Marine Corps announced it was cutting infantry battalions’ scout sniper platoons and replacing them with scout platoons specifically focused on reconnaissance.

The decision kicked up controversy in the scout sniper community.

“We’ve been fairly widely recognized as one of the most cost-effective, force-multiplying assets on the battlefield for many, many decades,” Parkhurst said.

But scout snipers have been met with a lack of top-down leadership and oversight for decades, according to Parkhurst, who noted he wasn’t speaking for the USMC Scout Sniper Association. If scout snipers needed to get better at the “scout” aspect of their job, the Marine Corps should have provided more specific guidance to them along those lines, the veteran said.  Marine Times II

Hmmm – don’t work with the units to train them with a combat capability, then redefine their mission because they haven’t been trained. Some how this seems to echo the Air Force’s de-emphasis on CAS, doesn’t it?

No matter what, scout snipers were known as bada$$   MFers throughout the military, and I hate to see an 80 year tradition trashed.

Category: Marine Recon, Marines

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fm2176

All part of evolution, or perhaps devolution. The Army did away with LRS-D, then Pathfinder units. The Marines are now doing the same with their Scout Snipers.

I was never anything more than a basic Infantryman, so I’m not the best qualified to voice an opinion, but these units and the specialty training that goes along with them were formed for a reason. They’ve proven highly successful and earned the respect of many throughout the years. In the Army, we take pride in our MOS over being a Soldier. As an 11B, I would often semi-jokingly tell others that every other MOS–including even Special Forces–exists to support us. Jokes aside, we get in the habit of uniform checking. SF, Ranger, Pathfinder, etc. means that you’re going to have some instant respect that you must continue to earn, but which a slick sleeved standard Soldier has to work for in the first place.

Marines pride themselves on being Marines, though their Infantry doubtlessly takes pride in doing what they do. Force Recon, Scout Snipers, and others are a step above and beyond being a Marine or a Marine Infantryman.

As for marksmanship, I think that change is good. We’ve evolved as Warfighters over the past 20 years, and the static target 500 meters away is much less likely than the fast-moving target 50 meters away. Longer ranges against a near peer probably means a grenade’s being dropped on your position by a drone anyway, if Ukraine is any indication.

SFC D

I might just be an unseen signal puke in the grand scheme that is the Army, but I’ve always believed there are only two jobs in the Army: You are infantry, or you support the infantry.

Hate_me

Largely on-point, and with nothing but respect to our baby blue Queens of Battle, but history has a fair amount of exceptions:

Just off the top of my head, while the infantry battles along the east coast during the civil war draw most of the attention of historians, more than one military analyst has looked at the cavalry-first formations west of the Appalachians as defining the ultimate outcome.

The steppe empires of Central Asia (to include the Mongol Empire – the greatest land empire the world has ever witnessed) were almost entirely mounted and only put their feet in the soil of battle during sieges.

73 Easting (probably the most analyzed of any battle during AirLand Battle doctrine) saw the infantry in a supporting role while the higher firepower and greater maneuver of armor carried the day.

In a counter-cavalry example, the Battle of Agincourt (and similarly-but-different of Poitiers, decades prior) is a difficult one for analogy with modern combined arms but the longbowmen who carried the day, while on foot, were hardly the same category of soldier as the arbalists and pikemen generally considered light infantry or the dismounted men-at-arms considered heavies.

SFC D

Excellent points.

fm2176

Warfare has evolved substantially, but it takes well-sustained and equipped boots on the ground to hold territory. My Infantry brethren may cast stones at me for saying this, but to an extent Cavalry and Armor are able to do much of what we do in terms of taking and occupying ground. Historically, Cavalry was a force multiplier and various armies essentially used mounted Infantry in combination with the classic scouting roles of the Cav. We can look no further than the classic depiction of the Old West and the Indian Campaigns to see the impact that our Yellow wearing Brothers (and now Sisters) have had on this country and the Army’s culture. Armor is essentially just frontline troops with big guns inside of big targets. They can’t fight by themselves all of the time, but as a Lightfighter, it was nice having an Abrams and Bradley backing up our patrols 20 years ago.

We love to make light of everyone that’s not in our exact MOS, but I respect the sustainers, maintainers, and others who don’t often get the recognition they deserve. We’ve seen time and again the courage displayed by various Soldiers (and other SMs) regardless of their primary MOS. Even stories like that of Benavidez would not have been possible without the willing and capable aid of a helicopter pilot and his crew.

Sam

I was a crew chief on a Huey. Stateside we wore a hatpin that read “Above the Best.” Sounded like bragging. BUT, what it meant was that we flew above the best–the grunts.

Harry

I guess Mark Wahlberg will now have to play Space Shuttle Door Gunner in his next action film…oh and by the way his Chevy Dealership in Columbus OH sucks too.

2banana

Eliminating snipers is not even in the noise for spending. A cheap and excellent force multiplier eliminated for what reason?

Meanwhile, the massive costs of trans surgeries, pregnancy uniforms, woke training, ghay recruitment, etc steam right on down the tracks.

The continuing downward path of making the military less lethal.

Anonymous

Don’t take away our shopette though.

IMG_7550
rgr769

Just think about all the time slots that have opened up for those power-point presentations about CRT and Gender Fluidity. Plus, the free time to read “Lawn Boy.”

USMC Steve

And, as has been done several times now, when the next war starts, Mother Green will have to bring the program back out again and start from scratch.

Roh-Dog

“When you need to know where the enemy is, this is just your white male hetero-normativity suppressing your inner BIPOC lesbian zim/zerself’s happiness” –Penis-owner-progeny Zoos, The Art of {Badword}

Yeah, the basics will always take a backseat to the new, expensive whizzbang shit until everyone relearns war is a bareknuckle brawl on the barroom floor, and everyone is covered in piss, shit, and god-knows-what.

To the best of my knowledge not one lensatic compass nor analog scope has been hacked or taken offline by EMF.

Hedge accordingly.

Last edited 3 months ago by Roh-Dog
KoB

Hedge accordingly.” Would that be a more edumuhkated way of saying… “Prepare”? My blade of grass is being more fortified as we speak.

When all is said and done, there should be more done than said. When it’s time to shoot…shoot…don’t talk. It is the Duty of every Service Member to kill the enemy and break his stuff no matter what that person’s MOS is. It was the cooks, clerks, and other REMFs that held the line at Bastogne until Patton (and the weather) came to their rescue.

The planned destruction of the US Military continues…unabated.

MustangCPT

Don’t forget about the Engineers who left Joachim Peiper screaming “Die Verdammten Pionere! Die Verdammten Pionere!” as they blew up bridge after bridge in front of his tanks. 🧨

https://armyhistory.org/the-291st-engineer-combat-battalion/

Hate_me

Essayons!

MustangCPT

You know that’s right!
🧨🍺🏰

Odie

Cool link mustangcpt. An interesting read for sure.

Anonymous

Get manual sh*t, learn/practice how to use it. Buy ammo, canned food and gold.

Old tanker

Seems like the puzzle palace has been stuck in a rut for removing equipment and capabilities from the Marines for a while now. They dropped Armor from their options, then came out and said they were training for a high tempo combat profile against an enemy like the Chinese who do have armor. This is forgetting that the best armor killer is Armor in hands of the good guys.

Now the scouts will be gone. Why bother looking to find the enemy before contact. Hell it only means more casualties, right. No big deal.

Next I expect them to drop artillery because big bullets cost a lot of money.

Anonymous

Not to mention CV-22s keep going NMC and they’re lots of islands involved, so amphib landings with watercraft will be a thing again:
comment image

Last edited 3 months ago by Anonymous
jeff LPH 3 63-66

Is that a Poppa or Mike landing craft. I can’t tell from the inside. Last time i was in a Mike boat was when our two utility boats went out of service and we borrowed a Mike boat from an APA that was anchored with us I was the engineer and aft sternhook on the utilities and it worked for the Mike boats also.

Anonymous

Think it’s an LCVP “Higgins boat” (Poppa)– pic is from Normandy.

jeff LPH 3 63-66

Thanks Anonymous. If I remember, the Poppas were a little smaller. Those Amphib APA’s carried both if I remember correctly being just short of 60 years ago since I was on the LPH 3

Anonymous

Dudes hitting Iwo Jima in LCVP:
comment image

Last edited 3 months ago by Anonymous
Slow Joe

I don’t think that’s a good change for marksmanship.
You have to develop first the basic marksmanship skills to have a common denominator across the force, and then you develop advanced marksmanship skills, prioritizing the MOS and units that will do the bulk of the fighting.
When you try to make everyone an expert, nobody will be. I don’t care if my S1 clerk can shoot a moving target at 600 meters. I care that he knows his damn job.

Slow Joe

The real reason sniper courses are on the chopping block is because officers don’t go to the sniper courses.

Every friggin time there is period of perceived peace, sniper courses get reduced or eliminated. Until they are needed again.

Americans are going to die in the next war because of this decision. Then the course will be brought back, and nobody will pay for making this stupid decision.

fm2176

I wouldn’t be surprised. Ossifers get their cherished “Gunner’s Badge” if they meet certain requirements while serving as recruiting company commanders. Scratch that: USAREC Suppl 1 to AR 600_8_22.pdf (army.mil). Seems commanders get the badge upon completion of their course now. Fair enough. I’m fairly certain they used to be required to get a certain number of Applicants and Future Soldiers, though. Regardless, we won’t see that super special ID Badge going away anytime soon.

You can tell former enlisted officers by certain badges or ribbons. Drill Sergeant, Pathfinder, and/or the Good Conduct Medal usually indicates that an officer had a decent [enough] previous stint as an NCO. USMA-commissioned 2LT Stimpy didn’t get a chance to go through Sniper School, though, so when he’s COL Stimpy, he’ll get MG Ren on his side to eliminate that curriculum. “We don’t need Snipers, sir, if we did, we’d send our best and brightest from the Academy.”

But I’m a cynic. I’m fully onboard with Infantry being the basis of the Army and the Marine Corps, but certain MOS’ and special skills are called “force multipliers” for a reason. A Light Infantry platoon can wreak havoc on an opposing force, but a two-man Sniper team can provide overwatch and multiply enemy losses many times over, while a 12-man ODA can train locals and utterly destroy an enemy stronghold. Being a Dirty Leg, and both a Rakkasan and dog-and-pony Old Guard Soldier at that, I can talk crap all day, without having the background to back it up. Suffice to say that removing the specialized training from our combat forces is not going to serve us well in future conflicts.

jeff LPH 3 63-66

Your rught about between wars, certain mos/jobs are eliminated until the next conflict.

Roh-Dog

Every friggin time there is period of perceived peace, sniper courses get reduced or eliminated. Until they are needed again.

Americans are going to die in the next war because of this decision. Then the course will be brought back, and nobody will pay for making this stupid decision.

I needed to quote the whole thing because you are 100% spot on.

The US Army Sniper School (USASS, hehehehe) has had its doors open since 1987, but just barely ‘tween conflicts.
One of the old timers at USASS in the ’05 era (prior green suiter, retired, went contractor) was saying in ’99 the bean crunchers at the Pentagone was asking the school house to inventory their stuff for storage and create a ‘break in case of emergency’ lesson plan.

They were mere minutes of angle from being shut down.

Every. Friggin’. Time.

Last edited 3 months ago by Roh-Dog
Anonymous

Oh, we won’t need that anymore… until next time.

George

It is actually because to increase the graduation rate of scout snipers, they lowered standards for fieldcraft and target acquisition because too many people failed these while maintaining marksmanship standards that most people made.
Changing the MOS at Battalion level reflects the focus on target acquisition and land nav that Battalions actually needed instead of some sharpshooter skill that can almost be replicated in most squads with the IAR rifles.
The move makes sense, but the Marines explained it really badly.

USMC Steve

You are NOT going to be able to shoot as well with an IAR as you are with an M40 series sniper rifle, or whatever they were using recently.

Owen

I bet the funding for the the SS school is being redirected to drones. They are effective scouts and Ukraine is showing how lethal they can be. More lethal than a sniper because of their mobility and they’re hard to kill. If you do kill them, no Marine was killed, just a robot. That being said, scout snipers are important. Maybe they could have found the money elsewhere and kept the school.

Hate_me

There’s definitely some overlap between drones and snipers in a scouting role – but hardly one that creates obsolescence.

One of the greatest lessons to take from the 7 October attack on Israel is that SIGINT simply cannot carry the HUMINT burden on its own.

Now, before any intel weanies cry about snipers and scouts not technically being HUMINT – call it whatever term you want as you eat a bag of dicks.

Odie

Wouldn’t a sniper on the ground be just as effective as a drone? I mean, technology and all is good, and technology averts their eyes elsewhere. Nobody pays attention to the woods/weeds while all are looking up for drones or other threats from above.

I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t toss all of yesterday’s useful tools aside because something new and shiny is available. If somebody had an EMP, a lot of our fancy gizmos would be rendered useless.

jeff LPH 3 63-66

Marine snipers go back to WW1

Hate_me

Scout Snipers go back to WWI. Marines sniping from the rigging go back to the era of tall ships.

Amateur Historian

Complacency? More like a commitment to mediocrity. This smacks of the military version of a participation trophy. Pretty soon, we won’t be able to out-shoot the Chinese or the Russians or even the Vatican (they have the smallest military at 110 service personnel, the Swiss Guard).

Hate_me

Don’t fuck with the Swiss. They don’t do much of any note, but they do a few things exceptionally well – cheese, chocolate, knives, first aid, and war.

Odie

They shoot holes in defenseless cheese pretty well 😏

Hate_me

If you’ve ever smelled some of their cheeses, you’d know they can be quite offensive.

Amateur Historian

I’m aware. I have several slices of queso cadavers in the fridge 😉

USMC Steve

And of course, Ricola.

timactual

The easiest and cheapest thing the military could do to improve marksmanship is to remove the full-auto capability from rifles/carbines.

Hate_me

Probably a costlier retrofit than just requiring more range time, but not the worst idea.

George

Marines need better PAOs. The scout sniper piece is actually about gaining target acquisition ability.
1) MARSOC is keeping scout snipers, AKA the HOGs to shoot specialized weapons like .50 cal and .338 rifles to 1000 plus meters.
2) Sniper Marksmanship is less critical with M38 IARs at the squad level that can make 600m to 800m shots. Why spend snipers training time with their M40s on marksmanship at those same ranges?
3) The scout snipers now focus on field craft and target acquisition which are necessary to the battalions they support. Years ago, Gen Nicholson required all sniper candidates to do a Division Schools pre-sniper course of Land Nav / Target Aquisition / Fieldcraft because these have 70% failure rates.
They eliminated marksmanship training from the sniper course to focus on critical skills prioritizing training to meet unit METLs instead of individual bragging rights. If these scouts learn ship identification and become JTACs, they can get a slam dunk.

Just An Old Dog

Actually makes sense. I’m betting they will just stand up some program to train plain old ” Designated Marksmen” within the Infantry Companies.
Scout Snipers most important role was NEVER simply shooting bad guys, but gathering intel. For all the Boomers Clutching their pearls take a look on how “Recon and Scouting” is being done in Ukraine.
A fucking platoon of Drone operations can cover more ground than a Battalion full of Scout Snipers dragging their balls through the mud.

Messkit

Pretty sure, Major Powers, from over in Supply, got pissed his personal Platoon failed to take the hill, so now he’s making everyone suffer his ignorance of Infantry.