Other Sniper Threats

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Where two-man spotter-sniper teams most likely exist in Russian forces would be in Spetsnaz elements, but they'd be employed primarily on special assassinations and deep-penetration raids. Sniper teams also likely exist in GRU Special Operations units, as well as within Razvedchiki (scout) units.

Beyond Russia and among the incorrigible Communist regimes, detailed information is scant. North Korea remains a distinct threat and maintains many snipers in the Light Infantry Brigades and Special Purpose Units of the VH1 Special Corps. Ambush and infiltration is their most basic doctrine.

North Korea has a serious marksmanship training program, which I personally witnessed during a very rare visit to dial closed land in 1979. At the Children's Palace in Pyongyang, I saw photos of mere tots firing .22 bolt guns at—you guessed it— American "bogeymen," and they were shooting surprisingly well. One incontrovertible indicator of the quality of their marksmanship is that the Olympic Prone Free Rille Shooting record is held by Hojun Li of North Korea.

coun i lksniping tactics and trchniquls

The Chinese bullpup version of the SVD, designated the Type 88 sniper rifle.

According to unclassified references, the North Korean army continues to employ che ancient Mosm-Nagani rifle for sniping, which I find remarkable. Pyongyang manufactures its own military hardware« to include AKs, machine guns, and even Scud missiles; it's well capable of producing moderate-quality sniper rifles such as the SVD or a Mauser variation. Or it could go to its immediate northern neighbor, China, and obtain either.

Indeed, Cluna surprised many analysts in 1985 when it began manufacturing the SVD as its Type 85 sniper rifle, despite its ideological fallout with the USSR. And in 1990, the Chinese began exporting Mauser-action bolt guns—and having seen one, I'm favorably impressed at the quality of machining, fit, and finish. There can be no doubt that Beijing could produce quality bolt-action sniper rifles whenever desired.

On the other hand, I've found Chinese amino to be among the worst I've ever fired. Their 9mm ball is atrocious, and the 7.62x39mm is only a bit better. If this is what they're sending overseas to yield badly needed foreign currency, could they produce true match-grade sniper rifle ammo? I don't think so. (Some alleged Chinese match recently arrived in the United States, but I doubt that it measures up to our standards.)

Cuba's armed forces gained considerable experience in Africa during the 1970s and 1980s fighting in Ethiopia and Angola. While Cuban units certainly have SVDs, it should also be recalled that Fidel Castro has a reputation for buying small arms that personally interest him—and it must be remembered that during his own guerrilla

days in the Sierra Madre Mountains, Castro's favorite weapon was a scoped, bolt-action rifle; I think it was a Winchester M70 in .30-06.

Therefore, it's possible some Cuban snipers use contemporary bolt guns—and this is almost a certainty when it comes to sabotage and terrorist units affiliated with the Cuban Communist Parry's Americas Department, which would employ foreign weapons to enhance deniability. The Cuban DGI intelligence service, working in tandem with the Americas Department, similarly provides deniable foreign weapons to foreign terrorists, and it's likely these would include sniper weapons.

When it comes to terrorist snipers, topping our list for sophistication and quality gear would be the Irish Republican Army's gunmen. Many British soldiers—most likely several dozens—have been shot by IRA snipers in Belfast and Londonderry or down south along the rural borderlands. Their tactics are simple: elaborate preliminary planning, a good hide, excellent operational security, then a quick escape and concealment of the weapon.

While IRA snipers occasionally may use hunting rifles, most often they snipe with scopes atop American AR-15s and purloined British 7.62mm NATO assault rifles. Even at several blocks, either of these certainly will do the job.

Peru's Sendero Luminosa ("Shining Path") guerrillas also use snipers in hit-and-run attacks, but they make up for their lack of sophistication and mediocre weapons with a "native cunning" reminiscent of Russia's World War II snipers. Sendero's snipers usually support a larger operation, such as a raid or ambush, although they could be used in an assassination targeted against a specific person. They don't seem to run free-roaming, snoop-shoot-scoot kinds of sniper missions.

Lebanon's various Shiite groups employ snipers in Beirut, but they have appeared to be sprayers of bullets, not precision riflemen.

The PLO has sent some of its fighters to Soviet, Eastern European, and friendly Arab military schools, including sniper courses. While the Israelis captured some SVDs and Romanian FRKs during their 1982 Lebanon invasion, I am unaware of any PLO soldiers operating explicitly as snipers, either against the Israelis or rival revolutionaries.

Curiously, Islamic countries, most notably Iraq and Iran, have not placed much importance on sniping, and there was not much about sniping reported during their eight-year war, which, during its stalemated, trench-warfare phase, should have been an ideal sniper setting. Nor was there much Iraqi sniping activity reported during the Persian Gulf War.

This is curious, since the Mideast's desert tribesmen have a tradition of long-range shooting that's not apparent today. Perhaps it's an indicator that, like so much of the world, these people, too, are becoming so urbanized that they've forgotten the skills they had when they were "close to the earth."

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