Photo Of The Day

Photo: August 01, 1944| Cr?dits : W. Eugene Smith. Desperation: Saipan civilians commit suicide rather than surrendering to American troops.

Photo: August 01, 1944| Cr?dits : W. Eugene Smith.
Desperation: Saipan civilians commit suicide rather than surrendering to American troops.

Suicide Cliff

The Battle of the Island of Saipan is most remembered as an amazing show of US military defiance, but there was another act of defiance which took place during that bloody battle:?Mass Suicide.

Fearing the US troops would torture and murder them?mainly due to propaganda laid out by the Japanese Imperial Army?the citizens of Saipan walked into the sea, or jumped off the cliffs and drowned themselves. The most notorious scene of the mass suicide was Marpi Point, a steep 250-meter (800 ft) precipice where American soldiers witnessed entire families fling themselves into the waves. First the older children pushed the younger children over the edge, then the mothers would push the eldest children, and finally the fathers would push their wives, before jumping over the edge themselves. Thousands of civilians?died this way.

The Imperial Army drove residents from shelters, took their food, prohibited them from surrendering, tortured, and slaughtered them on grounds of suspected spying. They forced people into ?mutual killing? among close relatives, and left the sick and handicapped on the battlefield.

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The effectiveness of Snipers

? USA Today

A great article about the force multiplying effect of quality sniper teams:

US Marine Corps Designated Marksman, armed wit...

US Marine Corps Designated Marksman, armed with the Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR), derived from an M14 rifle with a telescopic sight. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Iraq the value of snipers was clear from the beginning. When Marine officers were negotiating with insurgents holed up in Fallujah in 2004, the enemy’s first request was that Marines withdraw snipers who ringed the city and were targeting insurgents.

Fallujah had become a symbol of insurgent resistance after four U.S. security contractors were killed in an ambush and the charred remains of two were strung from a bridge over the Euphrates.

“They weren’t concerned with the tanks or the battalions in there,” Armstrong said. “They wanted the snipers removed.”

Marine officers refused. Within days, the insurgents met the Marines’ initial conditions.

“They’re a small niche that can really wreak havoc on the enemy,” said Clarke Lethin, a retired Marine officer who was on the staff of the unit that conducted the negotiations in Fallujah. “Our snipers were very effective when we were trying to bring terrorists to the table.”

There’s a personal element to snipers that is hard to quantify but has an impact on the enemy.

When an insurgent is killed by an unseen drone strike, “the enemy sort of absorbs that,” dismissing it as superior American technology, Armstrong said.

They have a different reaction to sniper kills. “When a sniper shoots them ? it translates to, ‘I just went to a fight man-on-man and I was bested by another man,’ ” Armstrong said. “That is the psychological impact of scout snipers on the battlefield.”

The enemy also understood the psychological potency of an unseen enemy that can strike at any time. Starting in 2005, insurgents released a series of videos showing U.S. soldiers being shot, claiming it was the work of a single sniper who was stalking Baghdad. The video was an effort to strike fear into American troops by raising the specter of an unseen gunman preying on U.S. troops.

The U.S. military denied that any one insurgent marksman was responsible for the killings and dismissed the video as propaganda. Military analysts say insurgent marksmen lack advanced training and equipment that would allow them to take long-range shots at night.

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The mind of a sniper

What goes on in the mind of a sniper?

Chris Kyle is a sniper, the best in the world. He describes his job:

As US forces surged into Iraq in 2003, Chris Kyle was handed a sniper rifle and told to watch as a marine battalion entered an Iraqi town.

A crowd had come out to greet them. Through the scope he saw a woman, with a child close by, approaching his troops. She had a grenade ready to detonate in her hand.

“This was the first time I was going to have to kill someone. I didn’t know whether I was going to be able to do it, man, woman or whatever,” he says.

“You’re running everything through your mind. This is a woman, first of all. Second of all, am I clear to do this, is this right, is it justified? And after I do this, am I going to be fried back home? Are the lawyers going to come after me saying, ‘You killed a woman, you’re going to prison’?”

But he didn’t have much time to debate these questions.

“She made the decision for me, it was either my fellow Americans die or I take her out.”

He pulled the trigger.

Kyle remained in Iraq until 2009. According to official Pentagon figures, he killed 160 people, the most career sniper kills in the history of the US military. His own estimate is much higher, at 255 kills.

According to army intelligence, he was christened “The Devil” by Iraqi insurgents, who put a $20,000 (?13,000) bounty on his head.

Married with two children, he has now retired from the military and has published a book in which he claims to have no regrets, referring to the people he killed as “savages”.

Israeli researchers have found something a little different:

But a study into snipers in Israel has shown that snipers are much less likely than other soldiers to dehumanise their enemy in this way.

Chris Kyle killed an estimated 40 people during the second battle of Fallujah in 2004

Part of the reason for this may be that snipers can see their targets with great clarity and sometimes must observe them for hours or even days.

“It’s killing that is very distant but also very personal,” says anthropologist Neta Bar. “I would even say intimate.”

She studied attitudes to killing among 30 Israeli snipers who served in the Palestinian territories from 2000 to 2003, to examine whether killing is unnatural or traumatic for human beings.

She chose snipers in particular because, unlike pilots or tank drivers who shoot at big targets like buildings, the sniper picks off individual people.

What she found was that while many Israeli soldiers would refer to Palestinian militants as “terrorists”, snipers generally referred to them as human beings.

There were about 20 gunmen escorting a convoy and one of them was unlucky enough to get in the sight of my scope. The distance was about 300m, almost nothing for a sniper.

A few seconds later I saw him lying motionless.

In the heat of the moment my only thought was to shoot more and more. I saw the figures rushing in panic and trying to hide.

We killed all of them, except three or four who were wounded and captured. Afterwards I blamed myself for not being cool-headed enough. I thought that if I had been calmer, I would have killed more enemies.

We were proud of ourselves, but now I am ashamed.

If I was asked today, I would say it’s very hard to kill, but more than 20 years ago I was too young.

“The Hebrew word for human being is Son of Adam and this was the word they used by far more than any other when they talked about the people that they killed,” she says.

Snipers almost never referred to the men they killed as targets, or used animal or machine metaphors. Some interviewees even said that their victims were legitimate warriors.

“Here is someone whose friends love him and I am sure he is a good person because he does this out of ideology,” said one sniper who watched through his scope as a family mourned the man he had just shot. “But we from our side have prevented the killing of innocents, so we are not sorry about it.”


The Art of the Precision Rifle

Awesome video from Magpul about?The Art of the Precision Rifle. I’ll add this to my Christmas wishlist.

The Art of the Precision Rifle is the 5th release in the acclaimed “Art of” series by Magpul Dynamics. In this 5 disc DVD set, Chris Costa and Travis Haley receive instruction from renowned long range expert, Todd Hodnett (Accuracy 1st) on the fundamentals needed to shoot consistently out to a mile.

A separate disc covers long marksmanship fundamentals by USMC Scout Sniper Instructor (and Director of Training, Precision Rifle Operations for Magpul Dynamics), Caylen Wojcik.

This DVD set covers over 10 hours of on location, live shooting instruction and is set to be released in the Fall/Winter 2011.


Wednesday Weapons – 85 Year old Sniper

Ted Gundy is a legend, he fought in?the?Battle of?the?Bulge and now at 85 years old he makes a 1000yd shot with a custom Remington 700.