Doctrine and Perceptions

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Like all things in the So\net Red Army, the sniper has been employed in sufficient numbers to overcome his individual quality shortcomings. As Stalin used to say, "Quantity has a quality of its own."

This is not to diminish the Red Army sniper's abilities—his achievements during World War II

speak for themselves. But the sniper concept as taught in the former USSR is not the same as that taught at Quantico or Fort Benning; the Soviet sniper's role is not precision fire but long-range aimed fire. This implies that he selects and actually engages distinct targets, in contrast to other Soviet infantrymen who merely chatter away on full auto.

Doctrinally, his job is to compensate for his AK-74-wielding comrades who have ballistic shortcomings beyond 400 meters. He's outlined with a semiauto 10-shot weapon for a relatively high sustained rate of aimed fire—five rounds per minute—and he should score hits, but his do-all and be-all is not one-shot kills.

Despite this lower level of marksmanship expectations, though, he's still intended to be a cut above the rest, mastering, a Russian captain wrote in 1982, "the art of observation and concealment, accurate fire, and skilled tactical actions."

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