Inside the Crosshairs: Snipers in Vietnam
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"The American sniper could be regarded as the greatest all-around rifleman the world has ever known. . . ."
At the start of the war in Vietnam, the United States had no snipers; by the end of the war, Marine and army precision marksmen had killed more than 10,000 NVA and VC soldiers--the equivalent of an entire division--at the cost of under 20,000 bullets, proving that long-range shooters still had a place in the battlefield. Now noted military historian Michael Lee Lanning shows how U.S. snipers in Vietnam--combining modern technology in weapons, ammunition, and telescopes--used the experience and traditions of centuries of expert shooters to perfect their craft.
To provide insight into the use of American snipers in Vietnam, Lanning interviewed men with combat trigger time, as well as their instructors, the founders of the Marine and U.S. Army sniper programs, and the generals to whom they reported. Backed by hard information and firsthand accounts, the author demonstrates how the skills these one-shot killers honed in the jungles of Vietnam provided an indelible legacy that helped save American lives in Grenada, the Gulf War, and Somalia and continues to this day with American troops in Bosnia.
preferred term for long-range shooters throughout the British Empire. In the post–Indian War period, the U.S. military again emphasized individual marksmanship with the standard issue .30-caliber Krag-Joegensen rifle and benefitted from that when the United States engaged in a brief and decisive war with Spain over Cuba and the Philippines. Due to the war’s short duration—war between Spain and the United States was declared on April 21, 1898, and the fighting lasted only three months, even
In addition to presenting lectures about the progress of sniper training and use in Vietnam, Russell began writing the first official sniper-training manual in Marine Corps history.a When the lead elements of the 1st Marine Division arrived in Vietnam in August 1965, they quickly discovered the same need for snipers as had their fellows in the 3rd Division. Some companies brought sniper weapons with them and designated their better marksmen snipers. However, the division made no efforts to
them cases of ammunition. Artillery batteries, usually operating from fixed positions in secured base camps, dealt with the enemy from afar, delivering their destructive power through coordinated trajectories. Even when the fighting shifted to close combat, the artillerymen had stores of ammunition at their disposal and their bases were mutually supporting. Even further removed from direct combat with the enemy and any need for snipers were most members of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air
bring fire to bear on the suspected sniper location is as important as individual protection. Immediate action drills and directing immediate rapid and accurate fire into the general direction of the sniper should be emphasized in training.” While it is doubtful that the average VC/NVA sniper was aware of official American doctrine, he most surely experienced the results of it. The minute he pulled the trigger, he could anticipate return fire from rifles, grenade launchers, and machine guns in
primary USMC sniper rifle in 1977. M21 Sniper Rifle Cartridge 7.62 × 51 mm NATO (M118 match) Operation Gas, semiautomatic Weight 12.25 pounds Length 44.1 inches Feeding Device 20-round detachable magazine Effective Range 900 meters Muzzle Velocity 2,805 fps Scope 3×9 variable power Redfield Comments: After testing in Vietnam, the U.S. Army approved the M14 National Match Accurized rifle and designated it the XM21, renaming it the M21 in 1972. It was the primary army sniper rifle of the