From the Archives, 2014.
“History is nothing else than a long succession of useless cruelties.” (Voltaire)
When you look at the situation in Syria, you see the logic in Voltaire’s prose. I suppose it is the hopeless romantic in me that wishes for a world that is not filled with asshole tyrants and despots that take advantage of the less fortunate; cowards that give “kill” orders daily, slaughtering civilians in the street like cattle. But since “hoping” for something is akin to pissing in the wind and wondering why you are getting wet, I take comfort in the fact that history is also replete with examples of men and women who stand up to tyrants. People that take action and arms against their aggressors. People who are tired of words and useless diplomacy and choose to fight “fire with fire”. Who are these people? You might recognize them, they are just like you and me; “Average Joe” Civilian Operators. who want a better life for themselves and their families and are willing to fight and die for it if necessary. After all aren’t heroes just ordinary folks put in extraordinary situations?
Guerilla Warfare and it’s practical applications should be something the CO studies on a daily basis, and right now, halfway across the world in Aleppo, Syria, there is a virtual “Urban Guerilla” school going on, everyday, 24 hours, around the clock. Now this school has been held in different locales over the years: Northern Ireland, Chechnya, the Philipines; the situation always the same; A vastly under-manned, under-equipped civilian/para-military force, fighting a militarily superior army, hitting them on their own terms using IED’s, hit and run ambushes and (Urban) Guerilla Sniping, attempting to win by attrition, constantly harassing, constantly prodding the enemy, until the war is won.
Before we continue, we need to clarify something. Guerilla Sniping is one of those “tactical misnomers” in my opinion, only because anytime you say the word “Sniper” immediately people think of Marky-Mark Wahlberg in the opening scene of Shooter making these 800 to 1,000 yard shots with his trusty Barrett and his ghille-suit on, with his spotter at his side calling the shots… ..nothing could be further from the truth! (Although that was an entertaining movie taken from the novels of Stephen Hunter).
In John West’ superb book Fry the Brain: The Art of Urban Sniping and it’s role in Modern Guerilla Warfare, West states that “Urban Guerilla sniping is a drastic departure from the traditional concepts of sniping”. He goes on to lay out several reasons for this, the most prominent being the “Long Range Myth”. Where most would think the sniper’s role of taking extremely long shots, the Guerilla Sniper turns that paradigm on it’s head. Citing historical examples from Chechnya and Iraq, where ranges of 50 to 200 meters were the norm, 200 yards even being at the far end of the scale.
Another key element of Guerilla Sniping is the dependence on Guerilla Tactics NOT Elite Hardware or training to get the job done. West states “To connect the dots of the urban sniper one must first realize it is the guerilla’s unconventional tactics that make them effective, not their exceptional shooting ability.”
Check out this superb little video of Urban-Guerilla Sniping in Aleppo, Syria.
There are several things of note we can take away from this video:
1. Note the spot welded scope rails onto the dust covers of the SKS’ and AK’s to hold zero; yeah not the greatest ideal in the world, but the Guerilla has to work with the materials he has available; the book Guerilla Gunsmithing is a decent primer on the subject.
2. The weapons are a mixed bag, but all of them make superb guerilla sniper weapons. Remember, we are not talking 1,000 yd yard shots here. Example: With a steady rest, could you shoot a cantaloupe at 100 yds with your AK with open sights or even a 3x red dot? Guerilla Sniping is “out of the box” that is why the word “Guerilla” is often associated with the terms “Un-Conventional” or “Irregular”.
3. The optics are a mixed bag, note that the higher magnification optics are saved for the larger caliber G3 clones and FAL’s, while the smaller 3x ACOG knockoffs remain on the AK and SKS’s.
4. The snipers employ traditional urban-guerilla tactics to avoid detection and confuse the enemy including:
“Position Overload”: Firing from an area with many potential firing positions; a building for instance with 14 open windows or “loopholes”.
“Splitting the Seams”: Using the urban terrain to your advantage and firing from a position where the enemy cannot backtrack your firing azimuth; an example would be firing from a building that is adjacent too, or next to another building.
Loophole or Keyhole Shots: Loophole shooting is firing from a very small hole in the wall, either cut by the sniper or a natural deformity, like a hole from an artillery blast. Keyhole shooting is where you fire through a loophole from deep in the room, hiding your muzzle flash and suppressing/masking your sound signature. Some snipers in Chechnya for example would fire from deep in the structure, down a long hallway and through an open door or window.
Multiple Shooters: Self-Explanatory tactic where several snipers are operating in the same area sometimes targeting the same or multiple objectives. If communication can be synchronized, snipers in different locations can fire in unison at different targets, confusing the enemy even more.