Staff Sgt. Chris Smith fires from a hasty kneeling position during the enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Latvia International Sniper Competition at Camp Adazi, Latvia, Nov. 16, 2021. The LISC was created to bring sniper teams from across NATO together to share knowledge and engage in challenging, friendly competition. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Remi Milslagle)
Staff Sgt. Chris Smith fires from a hasty kneeling position during the enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Latvia International Sniper Competition at Camp Adazi, Latvia, Nov. 16, 2021. The LISC was created to bring sniper teams from across NATO together to share knowledge and engage in challenging, friendly competition. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Remi Milslagle) (Photo Credit: Sgt. Remi Milslagle) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP MURRAY, Wash. — As the 3rd Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment arrived in Poland in April 2020 for the start of its NATO Enhanced Forward Presence rotation, Staff Sgt. Chris Smith sought training opportunities for his snipers. Almost a year after returning, those with whom Smith developed a working relationship continue to reach out for training and guidance.

“We were waiting for our vehicles to arrive, so one day I just walked over to the snipers with the British 20th Armoured Brigade Combat Team and said, ‘Hey we speak the same [sniper] language. Let’s get together and start training,’” said Smith. “We hit the ground running and forged some strong relationships.”

As part of the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence, 3rd Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment Soldiers worked in a multinational, combat-ready force, demonstrating the strength of the transatlantic bond and making clear that an attack on one ally would be considered an attack on the whole alliance.

In early October, Smith received an email from his British counterpart asking for help with a sniper class. The email included an invitation to share knowledge and expertise in the field and participate in shooting concentrations during the multinational course.

“We have been asked to help with developing the circuits and being guest speakers,” said Smith.

National Guard snipers are often some of the best National Guard Soldiers who excel in physical fitness, mental fortitude and intelligence.

Guard snipers train at the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center at Camp Robinson, Arkansas, taught by instructors from the 233rd Regiment Training Institution. Guard members who complete the course receive their sniper identifier and are qualified U.S. Army snipers. They are also eligible to compete in the Winston P. Wilson and Armed Forces Skill at Arms Meeting National Guard Sniper Championship.

Smith, a law enforcement officer in Spokane, joined the Guard after leaving active duty. He left active duty as a captain but decided to pursue the sniper career field in the Guard.

“Not an average experience in the military,” said Smith. “This is more unique, more chances to do cross-training.”

While deployed to Poland, Smith said the highlights of the year included working with snipers from NATO nations and building that team comradery.

“It was truly the highlight of the trip. On deployments, you make of it what you can, and just those experiences were the best part of it,” said Smith. “We worked with snipers from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Norway, Sweden, Germany so many different countries. It was amazing.”

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