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Counter Terrorism

Sniper Dialogue: A Special Missions Sniper

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Sniper Dialogue: A Special Missions Sniper

This article is written by my friend Dave Nielsen. Dave served in the Ranger Regiment and then became a Special Missions Operator. He also served as a Sniper. 


Foreword: In sniper training, the dialogue between sniper team members –
the shooter and spotter – is formatted and purposeful. The spotter, usually the
senior of the two, has held the job of shooter. He is the team leader, makes
decisions, provides security for the shooter who is occupied, and maintains
communication with the others. The others, the rest of the platoon may be on the
next hilltop over; they could be hours away by helicopter. It doesn’t matter; the
sniper team is alone for days at a time.
Sniper Dialogue is the two-way exchange of vital information between
teammates. It is the spotter walking the shooter onto a target maybe a mile away. It
is the shooter reporting observations (for hours or days at a time) to the spotter, up
to the others. Sometimes, though, it’s just banter between brothers. Necessary but
not reported, the chat can get philosophical, bickering, tragi-comic, or just hilarious.
Below is just one of many such dialogues.


Act I Scene I

Jessica Lynch mission, Iraq 2003
S1: So much for a good fight; what’d we each shoot, once? No other positions shot
that I heard.
S2: I drilled that guy in the window though. He was shooting and then disappeared
right when I shot. You think I hit him?
S1: Do you think you hit him?
S2: My crosshairs were on his upper chest, I pulled clean on the trigger. It’s not
even 200 meters. I wonder if I hit him, he disappeared right after the round cracked.
My night vision to scope mount is boogered up again. I couldn’t miss at this range,
S1: I think he’s dead. Oh my God, what is that smell? (sound of men throwing up at
the base of building the snipers are on top of).
Radio traffic: PC secure, moving to exfill LZ. All elements prepare to evacuate.
Roger. BREAK BREAK BREAK. Gravesites located, all elements remain on target. Air
elements push out to FARP. Translation: Assault force has Lynch, let’s leave.
Everyone move back to the vehicle you came in on or helicopter landing zone
briefed in the plan. WAIT A MINUTE- EVERYONE SHUT UP – we found the 9
Americans that went missing with Lynch and are Missing in Action. We’re going to
dig them up. Helicopters move to refueling point and await call to pick us up.
S2: Whoa, they found the bodies.

S1: Whoa.
Radio traffic: (an hour into the recovery. Radio etiquette and protocol gone)
Roger sir, we’re almost done. We need to rotate guys out sir, my guys are sick and
most of our E-tools (collapsible military shovels) are broken.
Have them drink water and take a break Sergeant Fader.
Sir we’ve done that and BLAAAAAAEECH. We’ve done that sir HUUUUUPH.
Spit. We’re all throwing up sir, can we rotate our guys out?
I thought you said they were shallow graves Sergeant Fader.
Roger sir.
Then what’s the problem, can you finish up? We have to get out of here.
Sir we.. FUCK sir we need more E-tools, they’re all broken. Everyone is
throwing up.
Understood Sergeant Fader. You have 9 bodies, correct? How many are
bagged and ready for exfil?
I’d say... I think... 7, wait.. 8 heads or heads with upper bodies. Their eyes are
coming out sir...
Sergeant Fader?
We have 9 heads and torsos now and most of the parts. Just get us some
fucking shovels. Please. Sir.
Sergeant Fader how close to recovery complete, over...
Sergeant Fader how close to recovery complete, over...
S2: They’re crawling around on the ground throwing up. I want to go give them my
water ok? Fader’s the man. BLAAAACH. Spit.
S1: Go. Help em dig too, then come switch out with me. Fader is the fucking man.
Fader, are you done yet Fader. Fader, I need to know when you’ll be done. Did
you get the shovels?
How about when we’re fucking done Sir. How about we leave when we’re done.
BLAAACH. Spit. No we didn’t get the shovels. The guys are digging with their hands.

We’re almost done. We’re getting everything we can but guts are spilling out. Limbs
fall off when we try to pull them out of the graves.
Scene 2
S1 is retired, working in the civilian world and speaking with a friend. S2 still active
duty. A decade of war and hundreds of missions later, the sniper dialogue has become
the unconscious: the repeating dream. It’s the voice in the head; the sniper dialogue
takes its directors chair deep in the soul.
CIVILIAN FRIEND: Jessica Lynch; was that even a thing? Did it even happen? I
heard it was nothing but a media event. None of our force were killed on that
mission right?
S1: None of us were killed on the mission.
FRIEND: Wow. What a cover-up. The media says they feel duped, that it wasn’t a
real rescue mission.
S1: Wow.
FRIEND: Wow what?
S1: Nothing. It’s not a cover-up; forget it. The more I try to explain this stuff the
worse it gets. But I have to try, or this will drive me insane.
Do you remember when Greg was killed in our senior year of high school?
FRIEND: Of course bro. What’s that got to do with Jessica Lynch?
S1: Nothing. And everything. Remember Greg’s parents for the week it took to find
his body?
FRIEND: Oh God. They were hysterical. Inconsolable.
S1: Remember his parents after they found him and buried him?
FRIEND: Sad but at peace. Yeah, what a difference – all the difference in the world.
But Jessica Lynch lived, right? What am I missing?
S1: The 9 dead soldiers we brought home. Their missing bodies. We recovered
S1: The 9 dead soldiers we brought..

FRIEND: I heard you, but I didn’t hear about this. All the media talked about was
how the military made it out to be a heroic rescue mission, but that it was
overhyped. How did you recover the bodies?! How long had they been dead? Who
were they? Why don’t people know about this??
S1: Let me start from the end. This dude named Fader was in charge of the Ranger
platoon my sniper team was supporting. We were in a HUM-V driving back from the
mission; broad daylight, hot desert sun and we’re right behind the 5 ton flatbed
truck carrying the 9 bodies in body bags. They weren’t shaped like bodies anymore
man; each bag looked more like a hockey bag stuffed with equipment. It didn’t make
sense to the human eye... <S1 spits>
Then the bags started leaking. Sloshing around. The smell.. oh man the smell. Guys
were throwing up, dry heaving while we drove, until we crashed. The driver fell
asleep, we’d been up for 3 days and nights. What a mess.
FRIEND: Dude.. wait.. wow. Body bags sloshing around looking like gym bags. How
long were they dead?
S1: about 10 days buried in shallow graves. In April, in the desert. It’s well over
110 degrees in April.
FRIEND: How did you dig up the bodies?
S1: We used shovels and our hands to dig them up.
FRIEND: How many people have you told?
S1: Just you.
FRIEND: Why me?
S1: You’re the first one to ask.


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Battle Lessons


Battle Lessons

Run – Hide – Tell?

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”


As the battle for the ‘Run-Hide-Tell’ method rages on, one has tried to stay objective concerning the reasoning behind the government led initiative or as I like to call it the ‘die on your knee jerk reaction’ method. When you learned to cross the road did you blindly run out and hope for the best or were you taught to, assess for danger and then make an educated decision as whether or not to cross?

This perspective comes from my role as a tactical medic, inclusive of but not limited to multiple deployments with the military as a combat medic and over six years of deployment within the private security sector. I am sure that we can all meet somewhere amidst the common ground covered in the middle. My personal priority will always be damage control and the best practice to lessen casualty numbers where possible during and after the attack, numbers within the predicted yield or numbers calculated through the ripple effect.

‘They only have to get lucky once, we have to get lucky every time’ Former Head of MI6

Once a cell or individual has slipped through the Security Services net, which is not easy and doesn’t happen often. The target area will have already been chosen, the plan will be set in some cases years before, (Manchester) weapons of choice are cached, timings confirmed, watches synchronised and yield expected/hoped for from attack method calculated. Weapon or weapons of choice may include vehicles, knives, assault rifles, grenades or suicide vests, all genius on mainland Europe but not a new tactic from our enemies. After much discussion we can commonly place the attacks that we have seen so far as fluid and moving with no specific fixed killing area, they are mobile and opportunistic from the initial engagement, this alone is argument enough against running as an initial option. An enthusiastic terrorist will adapt which in turn may develop into a complex attack, housing potential for secondary or follow up devices or attacks. The reaction of the security force at this point or first responders, potentially unarmed will generally decide how far these attacks go. Armed unit response times are exceptional in the city of London but would never be the same in the vulnerable cities around the UK. To instil the practice of running with no purpose or thought will create the panic, chaos, and confusion needed to prolong the success of any attack.

How should you the public or people in general react to an attack, be it kinetic through rifle fire or through other means? I have no generic lists or fancy celebrity endorsed eye-catching posters with an easy to follow flowchart, just the mind-set of a soldier along with lessons learned from multiple years at war. These lessons will encourage you to take control of your own personal response in an empowering fashion. I call it the ‘Common Sense’ approach.


Military lesson focus

Actions on attack pre Afghan/Iraq were to (Return fireTake cover,Return Appropriate Fire) RTR for brevity. As fighting intensified with ever evolving tactics during urban operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, a shift happened. The Tactics Techniques and Procedures TTP’s for all ground forces at the height of both insurgencies took the ‘common sense’ approach to ‘actions on’.

Breaking contact, getting off the X, one in the same, a method used to regain a potentially lost initiative or to escape the onslaught of a complex attack, in infantry terms and once battle commences they seek to out manoeuvre, out gun and out fox the enemy whilst maintaining momentum, thus enabling prosecution of the threat.

The opposite is required in the defensive ‘actions on’ of a civilian in the case of a terror attack, the goal is to thwart the momentum, stop the ripple effect. The drill must remain simple and transferable to the men and women of our society.

Now before you scream at your phone or computer screen ‘How do we return fire? That is the genius of it, you do not need to return fire, and the drill of ‘taking cover’ is a decent immediate action and the most effective way to avoid the initial onslaught. This does not mean stay there for ten minutes; taking cover may involve dropping immediately to the ground to avoid fragmentation, debris, or bullets if a rifle is involved. It may involve a 2-5 metre zigzag dash to the nearest hardened cover (wall, building anywhere avoiding glass) or the avoidance of a rogue vehicle. It may involve changes to your personal pattern. When travelling, regardless of mode take your ear phones out and become more aware of your surroundings just as you were taught while crossing that road for the first time.

Bare with me as I manoeuvre to and from the battlefield, a full on firefight will involve soldiers bounding for no more than 1/2/3/5 metres at a time whist exchanging gunfire. One foot on the ground at all times and moving from cover to cover where appropriate. Leading our enemies into channels where they become the hunted, turning the tide so to speak. If this is the drill when we are fully equipped with weapons and armour why are we teaching our unarmed civilian population to flatly run?

Say these words and time yourself ‘I’m up, I’m running, I’m down’ that’s the absolute maximum exposure a soldier will give unless he is in the process of winning a Victoria Cross or he’s in the throws of the final assault on an enemy position, he is usually accompanied by support fire from flanks, air or the high ground.

Once the initial attack has happened as an individual or group there will be what’s known as a ‘soak’ period, time to assess the situation using all of your senses, identify the attackers, identify their weapons and make a choice, evade, defend or offend where you feel able. This is what’s known as you coming up with a workable plan, which may very well involve running, it’s all split second stuff – we as humans have an innate ability to assess risk and avoid danger, we’ve been doing it since the beginning of time.

Example question or combat estimate

So what? He/she is wearing a suicide vest. Therefore? My actions might be to dash into cover out of direct line of sight of him/her I then might look for a place to barricade myself in, along with others.

Leaders usually show themselves in times of strife, if that is not you, be confident about being a valuable team member. Going alone should not be an option, courage is contagious so embrace the adrenalin shift and as soon as you hear or mouth the words ‘I can’t believe this is happening’ believe it, it is happening, control it, and assess.

Look forward to the next Battle Lesson, this will concentrate on the ‘care under fire’, or ‘care under attack’ aspects of stopping the number of casualties free falling.

Suggested ‘actions on’ an attack

(TCAM) Take Cover – Assess – Move

A very capable friend of mine designed the ACT concept. It beats any government initiative the world over. Sure it says ‘Run’ but for the 10% who might it also says ‘Defend’

I hope the scene below reminds you of those 10% and thank you for taking the time to read my first blog, be safe.




Russian Ambassador Assassinated in Turkey


Russian Ambassador Assassinated in Turkey

An off-duty police officer assassinated Russia's ambassador to Turkey at an art exhibition in Ankara on Monday, officials said. The gunman shouted "Do not forget Aleppo!" as he opened fire.

The shooting of Ambassador Andrey Karlov was captured on video. Russia's foreign ministry described it as a "terror attack."


Russia has been instrumental in helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime in its push to retake the eastern sector of Aleppo, which had been held by rebels for nearly four years.

Here's what we know right now: 

• Off-duty police officer Mevlut Mert Altintas was the gunman, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said in a press conference. The attacker was born in 1994 in the town of Soke in Turkey's Aydin province, he said.

• Turkey's official Anadolu news agency reported that the gunman had been neutralized. But it was not immediately clear whether the attacker was killed or captured by police.

Karlov was giving a speech at the opening ceremony of a photo exhibit when the gunman opened fire.

Images of the scene showed a body on the ground as a man wearing a suit and holding a pistol stood nearby.

In a video circulating on social media that shows the shooting, the gunman is heard shouting, "Allahu akbar (God is greatest). Do not forget Aleppo! Do not forget Syria! Do not forget Aleppo! Do not forget Syria!"

"Get back! Get back!" the man can be heard shouting in Turkish as he waves a gun.

"Only death will remove me from here. Everyone who has taken part in this oppression will one by one pay for it," he said.

• The shooting occurred a day before diplomats from Turkey, Iran and Russia are scheduled to meet in Moscow to discuss the situation in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo.



• "We are currently in contact with Turkish authorities, who are assuring us that a thorough, comprehensive investigation will be conducted," Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in remarks broadcast on Russian television. "Murderers will be punished. Terrorism won't sustain. We'll fight it."

• "This attack shows the most disgusting and barbaric face of terrorism," Turkey's foreign ministry said in a statement, vowing to fight terrorism alongside Russia and its other allies.

• The attack occurred at the Cagdas Sanat Merkezi modern arts center in Ankara. The arts center is located in a posh, upper-middle-class neighborhood, near luxury hotels and many foreign embassies.



• Russia's foreign ministry described Karlov as an "outstanding diplomat."

"He's a diplomat who's contributed a lot in fighting terrorism during his career," Zakharova said.

The ambassador began his diplomatic career in 1976 and has been the envoy to Turkey since 2013, according to a profile on the website for the Russian Embassy in Ankara.

• Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke on the phone after the shooting to discuss the details of Karlov's death, according to Russia's state-run Sputnik News Agency.


Article sourced from CNN: