Specialized Brazilian Army Troops Undergo Sniper Training

Specialized Brazilian Army Troops Undergo Sniper Training

By Andréa Barretto/Diálogo
September 27, 2017

Hitting targets and collecting information about the battlefield are the main objectives of military snipers. This was the scenario under which 20 men from the Western Military Command (CMO, per its Portuguese acronym) underwent two weeks of Sniper Training at the 58th Mechanized Infantry Battalion (58º BI Mtz, per its Portuguese acronym), in the city of Aragarças, state of Goiás. “Snipers are an integral part of a combat operation, so they need to be well versed in the entire operational strategy,” says Brazilian Army Captain Maicon Douglas Machado, the coordinator of the training program, with regard to the role of snipers. “As situations arise, snipers need to make the correct decisions and pass on the right information to their superiors. Accordingly, our strategy was to give the trainees the tools they need to complete their assigned missions satisfactorily,” he added. These tools pertain to infiltration, movement around the battlefield, and marksmanship, as well as observation, memorization, and description of the landscape. This type of exercise is performed by the different regional commands of the Brazilian Army (EB, per its Portuguese acronym). This was the fifth edition of the program at CMO. EB Colonel Gilva Augusto de Farias Junior, the commander of the 58º BI Mtz, said that preparations for this activity began in 2016, based on prior experience and training references developed by institutions such as the Army Special Operations Instruction Center and the Agulhas Negras Military Academy. Theory and practice The Sniper Training at the 58º BI Mtz was held between July 14th and 28th, starting with the preparation of the activities and culminating in a simulated mission. Theoretical classes began on the 18th and were interspersed with practical exercises. Distance assessments, shooting at moving targets, techniques of observation, memorization and description, camouflage and progress on the battlefield were among the topics covered. Capt. Maicon Douglas explained that a good assessment of the distance by snipers is necessary so they can properly calibrate their weapons. The trainees tried shooting from different distances, from 100 to 600 meters. But distance is only one of the parameters to be considered by the military snipers. “If the target is moving, they have to perform another range of calculations to be able to successfully hit a target. This is associated with ballistics,” he said. Snipers also need to know how to infiltrate the area of operations and occupy a suitable position without being seen by the opposing forces. They also need to know about advancing around the battlefield and camouflage. One of the concepts of camouflage is to break up hard edges, in other words, to disguise human forms. During training, personnel learned to make their own clothing by sewing and tying different accessories onto their uniforms to help them blend into their surroundings. Marksman and observer In the role of sniper, military personnel can operate either as marksmen or observers. The purpose of the latter is to penetrate enemy territory and collect information about the operational environment. This information is transmitted further up the chain of command and it is strategically important for mission planning. Accordingly, the training program also included instructions on observation, memorization, and description. “The marksman takes the shot and the other man observes the battlefield, helping to calculate wind measurements, distance to target, etc., and he makes any corrections to the shot, if necessary,” explained Capt. Maicon Douglas. He added that observers are also armed in order to protect the team. Thus, the equipment used by marksman and observer is different. While the former carries a sniper rifle, the latter is equipped with a standard-issue rifle, “with greater firepower, in order to provide protection for both of them,” he said. EB battalions have two sniper teams, each comprising one marksman and one observer. This model was replicated in the simulated task that concluded the training program. This was the first time that EB Second Lieutenant Yago Brito Almada Ramos had participated in sniper training. During the program conclusion task, he had the role of observer. On the afternoon of July 27th, each team received its mission. The exercise started with mission planning by the trainees, who then infiltrated the battlefield and fired against targets, initially with blanks. The teams spent the night on the mission and then, the next morning, they had to fire against enemy targets, this time with live ammunition. According to 2nd Lt. Almada Ramos, the greatest challenge for a sniper is to overcome his own limits. “Often, a sniper team is on its own on the battlefield, and reinforcements are not always immediately forthcoming. This means that the team has to make decisions for itself, wherein it has to assess the best line of action to complete the mission,” he said. He also emphasized the responsibility assumed by snipers. “These service members have a great responsibility, considering their missions are never trivial. Accordingly, they have an increased responsibility for perfection in all their actions.”
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