• Special Forces Soldiers from four NATO countries, observe targets on a firing range at the Grafenwoehr Training Area during a judging distance exercise July 24. These exercises, a common aspect of sniper training conducted by the International Special Training Centre, are conducted nearly daily and provide Soldiers a better understanding of determining distance to the target with the naked eye and rifle scope.

    20090724-A-3870-V-001

    Special Forces Soldiers from four NATO countries, observe targets on a firing range at the Grafenwoehr Training Area during a judging distance exercise July 24. These exercises, a common aspect of sniper training conducted by the International Special...

  • A German Special Forces soldier calculates distance to a target with his naked eye during a training exercise July 24, at the Grafenwoehr Training Area. The exercise was part of the International Special Training Centre's Sniper Course, an intense five-week course that teaches NATO Special Operations Forces basic sniper fundamentals.

    A German Special Forces soldier calculates...

    A German Special Forces soldier calculates distance to a target with his naked eye during a training exercise July 24, at the Grafenwoehr Training Area. The exercise was part of the International Special Training Centre's Sniper Course, an intense...

  • A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier writes down coordinates to a target during a Judging Distance (JD) exercise during the International Special Training Centre's Sniper Course at the Grafenwoehr Training Area, July 24. Ten servicemembers from the United States, Germany, Greece and Turkey were evaluated in judging distances, stalking, observing and shooting.

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    A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier writes down coordinates to a target during a Judging Distance (JD) exercise during the International Special Training Centre's Sniper Course at the Grafenwoehr Training Area, July 24. Ten servicemembers from the...

  • A German Special Forces soldier lines his sites on a target 500 meters away, and awaits direction from an International Special Training Centre instructor to engage the target. The German Soldier was one of 10 troops from four different countries attending the sniper training course offered by the ISTC.

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    A German Special Forces soldier lines his sites on a target 500 meters away, and awaits direction from an International Special Training Centre instructor to engage the target. The German Soldier was one of 10 troops from four different countries...

  • U.S. Army Master Sgt. Eric Ludan, an instructor for the International Special Training Centre's Sniper Course provides feedback to two course participants following a live-fire exercise July 24, at the Grafenwoehr Training Area. The Sniper Course is an intense five-week course that teaches NATO Special Operations Forces basic sniper fundamentals.

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    U.S. Army Master Sgt. Eric Ludan, an instructor for the International Special Training Centre's Sniper Course provides feedback to two course participants following a live-fire exercise July 24, at the Grafenwoehr Training Area. The Sniper Course is an...

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- An out-of-place rock...an olive drab rucksack not covered...the subdued black muzzle of a Win Mag 300.

Just a few things that could get a Special Operations Soldier killed.

"Is there a blade of grass out of place, not enough grass or too many sticks' You start to go a little bit crazy here and get paranoid. You start to question your position and wonder whether or not you are actually hidden," said U.S. Army Special Forces Sgt. John Doe, whose name has been changed for security reasons.

Concealed deep in the woods of the Grafenwoehr Training Area, Doe and his partner, German Special Forces Sgt. Lutz Addler (whose name has been changed for security reasons), lay in the prone, target in sight and ready to fire one extremely accurate, discriminatory round. They've been in the same position for more than six hours - through the night - after stalking four kilometers to a hide-site where they could observe the target.

"We are used to training a certain way and techniques get ingrained into you," he said.

Over the course of five weeks, the two Special Operations Forces (SOF) Soldiers fired approximately 900 rounds, "which in any other course it may not sound like a lot, but we try to make every bullet count here," Doe said.

The course - the International Special Training Centre (ISTC) Sniper Course - teaches NATO partner SOF the fundamentals and proper techniques of sniping.

"This is a great opportunity," Doe said, "because a lot of time in Special Operations, as well as in the conventional Army, the first time you meet Soldiers from another country is downrange in combat.

"Having the opportunity to train with these individuals beforehand really improves the quality of the fighting force as a whole," the combat veteran said.

ISTC Sniper Course instructor, Sgt. 1st Class Chris Rightmyer agreed.

"The multinational environment, working with JMTC and the NATO partners, allows us the opportunity to strengthen our relationships and build a rapport with other nations on the battlefield, which would be likely in the event of the Soldiers randomly meeting during conflict," he said.

"These guys have a relationship that allows them to fight together and understand how to communicate effectively on the battlefield. They will have had the same training and worked together as a unified group," he said.

Rightmyer said the students learn the basic fundamentals of becoming a sniper: shooting, observation, judging distance and stalking.

The Soldiers spend countless hours lying still and even more time processing math equations in their head to determine their distance between the hide point and the target. Using stalking exercises, memory and observation drills, Rightmyer and the other instructors teach the new snipers how to successfully eliminate targets without being detected.

"Not every Soldier can attend this school," Doe said, noting that his team is usually scattered throughout the world on missions or other training exercises.

"There is a lot to take away from here so that when the team is all back in one place, you can cross-train and teach each other what you learn. You get a lot more training that way," he said.

"In training, you will make mistakes," he said. "That's the point. You make mistakes and learn from them. In combat, you really don't get that opportunity. So, the mistakes you learn from here, you won't make downrange and that means you get to come home."

Page last updated Tue August 11th, 2009 at 06:34