Targeting US Snipers

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There can be no question that Iraqi insurgents have especially targeted U.S. snipers. Besides being the number-one priority on an Iraqi terrorist Web site (see sidebar, page 492), American snipers are despised for their effectiveness, so detested that insurgent propaganda frequendy accuses them of heinous offenses such as killing women and Muslim holy men—crimes so despicable that any punishment is justified.

Though most often these are opportunistic attacks, some appear to be focused on particular U.S. snipers. On 2 September 2004, one of the U.S. Army's finest rifle shots, a Specialist 4th Class who'd previously been with Ft. Benning's Marksmanship Training Unit and aspired to make the U.S. Olympic rifle team, was ambushed near Kirkuk. After his vehicle was halted by a roadside bomb, the veteran sniper stepped from his vehicle and was shot dead by an enemy sniper's bullet to his head. He was slated to return to Ft. Benning to be an instructor at the U.S. Army Sniper School.

Indeed, there has been at least one incident where an American soldier was targeted for assassination and, according to the Iraqi sniper who took the shot, he was paid the equivalent of S5,000 for killing him. This same sniper was also tasked to kill a particular U.S. Army officer, which he claimed to have accomplished.

There have been a number of other incidents where Marine and Army snipers have been killed by insurgent snipers, usually picked off individually while operating in support of platoons and companies. Perhaps more troubling has been the growth of larger Iraqi countersniper operations intended to wipe out entire American sniper teams.

The first of these I've come upon occurred on 18 April 2004, in the a) Rashid District, near the Baghdad airport. A three-man sniper team from the 1st Cavalry Division led by 1st Lt. Eric Johnson had waited for darkness to occupy an overwatch position in a building under construction. While observing from the fourth-floor rooftop for insurgents planting bombs

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