By Spc. Sharla Lewis, 3BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsJune 28, 2010
FORT HOOD, Texas -- The snipers of 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, are readying a handful of Soldiers for the U.S. Army's Sniper School.
Preparation included creating a ghillie suit, which is an inside-out uniform reinforced with canvas and covered with faux foliage glued and sewn on by the wearer. Snipers use the ghillie suit to camouflage themselves from the enemy.
Four of the battalion's hopefuls participated in a ghillie suit wash; the practice of distressing their suits with dirt, brush, mud and water. Staff Sgt. Gary Rojas, the sniper section noncommissioned officer in charge said that before any other training could take place, their suits had to be prepared.
"We had the Soldiers make their suits over the course of two weeks," he said. "The training we did here is to break down the suit so it's as natural as possible to blend in with their surroundings."
When they arrived, the Soldiers hastily suited up at a creek and helped each other with their camouflage face paint.
"Get on your bellies!" the instructor shouted.
Immediately, the men dropped to the ground, faces down. On order, they rolled left and then right on the ground, flinging dirt and burrs into the air. In the thick central Texas heat, they crawled through the brush on their backs, dragging the long strands of their suits behind them.
Next, the Soldiers submerged themselves in the creek.
Over the span of 30 minutes, they walked, crawled, swam and belly-flopped their way through the water and its surrounding wetlands, smothering themselves in mud and mire to remove any human trace from their suits.
Less than an hour later but covered from head to toe in filth, the four Soldiers scrambled to the start, completing the course.
The Soldiers participating said the course was motivating and were glad for the opportunity to test their newly made ghillie suits.
"I've been stressing over building my suit so I was glad to see that my hard work paid off," said Sgt. Scott Lowery, an infantryman with Headquarters Company.
Lowery said having the training before going to school would give him and his team mates the upper hand.
"A lot of people are selected without being trained," he said. "By the time we get to the school, we'll have already gone through the training."
In the brigade's 2009 deployment to Mosul, Iraq, the regiment's snipers worked as dismounted infantrymen because the mission at that time did not have a need for their specialized capabilities.
Rojas and his team leaders are now preparing their new snipers for the unit's next deployment in the hopes that the sniper section will come back to life.
"The intent of the training is to prepare the sniper section that we're building for sniper school, the National Training Center and the deployment in case they need us."