FORWARD OPERATING BASE SALERNO, Afghanistan (Army News Service, April 23, 2007) - Soldiers from Task Force Fury are the first in a combat zone to receive a new sniper rifle, the XM110 semi-automatic sniper system.
The new rifle has several new features, the most prominent being an improved rate of fire.
"It's semi-automatic, so it allows for rapid re-engagement of targets," said Staff Sgt. Jason R. Terry, a sniper instructor with the U.S. Army Sniper School.
Older rifles such as the M24 Sniper Weapon System are bolt-action weapons that require the user to manually feed another round into the chamber after each shot. The automatic firing capabilities of the SASS will decrease lag time in between shots, Staff Sgt. Terry said.
A metal tube that fits over the barrel of the rifle also significantly reduces the signature blast and eliminates the small cloud of dust that rises off the ground from the gases emitted through the barrel.
This advancement will make locating snipers in the field, even after they have fired a shot, difficult for enemy forces, said Staff Sgt. Terry.
The new weapons came with three days of training, both in the classroom and on the range, by Staff Sgt. Terry and other experts.
"We learned to maintain and operate the weapon, what we can fix ourselves and what we can't," said Pfc. Joel D. Dulashanti, a sniper with the 82nd Airborne Division's Troop C, 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team.
Mr. Kyle P. Gleason, an equipment specialist with Tank Automotive and Armorist Command, handled the maintenance portion of the class.
"I teach them the basics," he said. "Here's your rifle, here's what it can do and here's how you take care of it."
Mr. Gleason taught Soldier how to determine the level of maintenance the weapon needs and who is capable of providing it. He also cautioned Soldiers about particularly fragile parts of the weapon, which only manufacturers can repair.
Soldiers appreciated the hands-on training, which they said helped them better understand their new equipment.
"I think it's a pretty simple gun to maintain and operate," said Spc. Aaron J. Fillmore, an infantryman with Troop C, 4-73rd Cav. "It was good to get the familiarization with the weapon."
(Spc. Matthew Leary writes for the Task Force Fury Public Affairs Office.)