From the 17 June issue of Air Force Times:
Sniperlike training, new rifles on tap for security forces
By David Castellon
Times staff writer
part 1 of 3
About 2,000 Air Force security forces members will get a lot more than new M-4 carbines later this year.
They’ll learn to shoot targets at a distance three times greater than the 990 feet — about the length of three football fields — that security forces regularly train to shoot.
And a handful of those “designated marksmen” will be tapped by their major commands to become “sharpshooter pairs” armed with high-powered M-24 Sniper Weapon rifles.
Air Force security forces are beefing up their arsenal with new hardware including Colt M4 carbines with Aimpoint optical sights, M240 machineguns and bolt-action M24 sniper rifles.
The new M240Bs should start arriving at security forces units in July.
With the M24s, the marksmen will be trained to shoot up to 3,300 feet, said David Beckwith, a Royal Air Force officer serving as the U.S. Air Force’s installation security chief as part of an officer-exchange program.
It’s not quite sniper training, although the sharpshooter pairs will train to the same marksmanship standards of Army snipers, officials said.
The difference will be in other training, including stalking craft and field craft operations.
end of part 1
part 2 of 3
The 170 people who will form the 85 sniper pairs will receive only a portion of full-fledged sniper training under the “Close Precision Engagement Program,” said Beckwith, whose RAF rank is wing commander.
“The program will leverage relevant aspects of sniper tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) and associated technologies, but is defensive in nature versus the offensive nature of traditional sniper programs,” according to a description of the program provided by the Air Force.
That’s because snipers in the other service can spend weeks in the field alone or in pairs tracking or seeking targets. The airmen won’t need to hone that ability as much, said Senior Master Sgt. Ned Bandoske, an action officer in the installation security branch.
The jobs of the marksmen and the sharpshooters will be to protect air bases and deployment sites, and could include finding and taking out enemy snipers or less-skilled shooters without having to get dangerously close.
Consequently, they wouldn’t need to know how to do a “2,000-meter field stalk to an airfield. They’re already on the airfield,” Beckwith said. “The core shooting skills are the same.”
part 3 of 3
The sharpshooter pairs will be trained by instructors at the Air National Guard sniper school at Camp Robinson, Ark.
The Air Force is the only ground combat force without snipers, but for years the guardsmen at Camp Robinson have provided 14-day “counter-sniper” training courses to members of air units that have individually footed the bill to send their people there.
Air Force security forces spent much of the past 18 months looking at the Camp Robinson program. The new CPE training there also will last two weeks, but officials at the school didn’t return calls to discuss if the training has changed.
Army snipers get five weeks of initial sniper training; Navy SEALs get nearly eight weeks and Marines get nine weeks.
Security forces officials decided in May to offer the training, which also will be offered to women, who are not allowed to become snipers in the other services.
Best shot gets the gig
One member of each of the Air Force’s 13-member security forces squads will be picked to be designated marksmen based simply on who is the best shot. They will be issued long-range targeting scopes and undergo longer-range shooting training at their bases.
The training of the sharpshoot-ing teams — which will be chosen from the pool of designated marksmen — will begin in November with 24 security forces members per class, Bandoske said.
The Air Force will review the program after two years and decide if more extensive sniper training will be needed, he said.
In the past, the Air Force has depended on the other services to provide snipers when needed during deployments.
Besides their M24 rifles mounted with eight-level magnifying sights, the sharpshooter pairs will be equipped with binoc-ularlike laser range finders that can be hooked up to portable Global Positioning System receivers.
The Air Force will begin replacing security forces’ M16s with M4s this year, with delivery estimated to start in November and continue at 1,000 carbines per month.
“The M4 is good for security forces troops,” said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Monsivais of the Center of Excellence. “The shorter barrel and collapsible stock make it easier to get in and out of vehicles, which we do all the time.”
The other obvious difference from the M16 is the lack of a carrying handle, the loop on the top of the receiver that also serves as the sight mount.
Instead, the M4 has a flat rail on the top of the receiver that allows quick mounting of a variety of sights and other attachments.
The Air Force version is coming with an Aimpoint M68 close combat optic and a backup iron sight already mounted.
So at the same time they are training snipers, they are giving their regular security police SHORTER ranged weapons than they have now? Neat dichotomy there....
In the mid '80s we had M16s (no A1, no A2), M60E3s, GAU-5s (10.5" & 11" m16s), an M9s.
My M193 ammo (in 1986) was headstamped LC77 & the bullets were falling out of the cases... not to mention that the barrel kept coming loose. But that was wih the 56th SPS on MacDill AFB...
Now, when I was at USSOCOM... Ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies.
Glad to see that the USAF at the least is finally bringing things into the 20th century.
Dunno why the M4s... For field deployments, I'd wanna stick with A2s. On base, M4s.