Shortly after the NRA show, I contacted Brian Sain, founder of AmericanSnipers.org, for an update on his organization, and for the SOF’ers who are not acquainted with AmericanSnipers.org, I asked him to summarize the history of said organization. RKB
1. Provide a summary of the history of your sniper support organization.
The entire crew at americansnipers.org (formerly known as “adopt a sniper”) are either active or retired SWAT or military school-trained snipers.
The attacks on 9/11 are still very vivid to all of us, and we felt helpless, standing on the sidelines, watching the war being fought by friends and family.
In 2003, as the first push in Afghanistan cooled down and the war in Iraq heated up, several SWAT/military sniper friends deployed overseas. We learned that they were lacking mission-specific gear that their units could not or would not provide.
We decided to act. Several of us began taking operational items out of our own gear bags and raising funds locally. We tongue-in-cheek “adopted” the snipers, thus the name of the initial organization.
After helping our friends, we had a small surplus of gear left over that we sent it to other snipers who were in desperate need.
We correctly assumed that the problem must be much, much larger than we initially thought. So using our sniper contacts in the US military, we embarked on a full-on effort to supply every operational sniper and designated marksman with as much gear as we could accumulate regardless of service branch, provided the snipers verified their credentials as such and established a legitimate need.
2. Provide the number of snipers assisted since the inception of americansnipers.org.
It is difficult to quantify to the man, but since 2003 we have supported snipers and designated marksmen in close to 600 different units of varying sizes in all branches of the US military.
3. Provide total, more or less, amount of equipment sent to snipers....like how many scopes, drag bags, knives, etc.
It is difficult to quantify, as some people send gear, some send money and some send homemade goods. Every dime goes toward gear purchases, fundraisers or shipping for same. We are a project of the 501c3 .org , which is a networking site for operational snipers worldwide.
4. Has your mission changed to any degree since the organization started?
Yes, somewhat. In every war, the mission of the sniper is forgotten—that is, until snipers are needed once again. Commanders and staff officers eventually realize the value of their snipers as a force multiplier, and once again they start supporting them—until they don’t need them anymore. It is a vicious cycle. It has been said that no one loves a sniper, except another sniper.
Some commanders have started to get their school-trained snipers the gear they need. The situation is better in some units, but in other units it has remained tough. The gear a sniper needs is expensive. By the time the unit’s available funds trickle down to the snipers, there is very little of it left.
5. Are you focusing on assisting squad designated marksmen more than school-trained snipers?
If they are assigned to a mission that involves a rifle that should be equipped with telescopic sights, we help them (regardless if they are school-trained snipers or not). Some designated marksmen have killed more of the enemy than school-trained snipers have. We do not put self-imposed limits on the killing of our nation’s enemies by adding to the silliness of inter-service rivalry.
6. Describe how squad designated marksmen are being incorrectly utilized and under-equipped and why.
Technology is great, but it does not take and hold ground. Wars are won by men who are skilled with a rifle. The US Army and Marine Corps officially stopped using the M14 rifle in the early 1970s. However, they have re-discovered that the M14 is not as sensitive to the desert environment as the M16, and that 7.62mm ammunition is more potent than 5.56mm.
The M14 (or a modern system equivalent) still has a place on the modern battlefield so they have been brought out of mothballs to fill a specific need. However, the weapon system is over 35 years old and the ancillary equipment needed to make them a modern system is often unavailable to individual units.
We spend many thousands of dollars updating these rifles with Sage stocks, US government-issue magazines, Leupold riflescopes, Badger Ordnance rings and Smith Enterprise mounts. Not to mention the vast quantities of rifle cleaning equipment snipers need that is not issued to standard infantrymen.
Regarding the mission, very few commanders have had any sniper training. Due to years of large-scale, conventional land warfare tactics taught in the officer training establishment, sniper employment and unconventional warfare are not big in the curriculum. It is usually not until one or two snipers kill more of the enemy than an entire unit over the course of a deployment that their value is understood and their needs are recognized.
Since our inception, it has been (and will remain) our single-minded goal to help them in that endeavor.