The Effectiveness of Rifle Fire Across Cultures
The "snipers" of Afghanistan and the Madmen of the West
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Originally written 2019, updated
Part 1:The “Snipers” of Afghanistan
I’ve been reading alot of The Wikileaks Afghan War Diary lately.
The “Diary” contains the leak of most all action reports from the Afghan war from 2004-2009 with the link above also granting access to the Iraq war diary covering the same period.
The reports, despite being brief and almost certainly selective on description (the average officer viewing them as paperwork which, best case scenario, no one mentions to them again) are none the less full of hinting details of what was actually going on. For example: why are their so many friendly actions with 50+ enemy dead, but no civilian casualties? Presumably we’d expect one or two to get mixed in as insurgent are famed for mixing with the civilian population, and yet there are very few labelled 50+ enemy dead, 1-5 civilian casualties. Were officers incentivized to just roll any civilian casualties into the enemy dead?
But one detail really stood out to me, and seems really relevant to a lot of discussions. The subcategory “Sniper Ops” is divided into two groups “Friendly Action” and “Enemy Action”. The Friendly action is pretty much what you’d expect: a two man team of highly trained upstanding marines fires one shot, maybe two, and then there are one or two Enemy KIA, sometimes they simply wound the target, and sometime they merely perform an overwatch: motorcycle rides up observes an FOB, then drives away, but it follows the pattern you’d expect from the movies: lots of sitting around observing and then (mostly) one perfect shot. The enemy action section could not be more different.