“ONE shot, one kill”. That’s the motto of snipers, who take pride at being able to kill a terrorist from hundreds of yards away with a single bullet. The terrorists are thinking the same for the safety and survival of fellow terrorists (tangos).
The friendly forces in Marawi could not move fast in their assault because the Maute-Isis fighters have good snipers. The enemy snipers are on top of tall buildings viewing the walking ducks on the ground, having their assault formation that could be the combination of “the Train,” “the Snake” and "the Congo Line."
If there are American military experts giving advice to Filipino soldiers in the war zone, I am sure that there is already a change in strategy to counter the Maute-Isis snipers. To achieve this kind of accuracy, snipers rely on a high-precision rifle that is designed strategically for sniping. If the Americans are there, they could have provided our own snipers with their “toys.”
The most popular caliber rifle used for sniping is the 7.62-mm Nato/.308 Winchester (not the latest in the US armory.) Another expert may prefer the .300 Winchester Magnum which is often preferred for longer range operations due to its greater velocity and energy. I am saying this with a hope that during the war games of Filipino and American soldiers in the previous months, this was included as part of the exercises.
Most sniper rifles are customized to ensure their accuracy. (This happens to the assassin who fires only the rifle which is his own making.) What are being considered by a sniper? Care is taken to make certain that the barrel’s internal dimensions are uniform, that the rifling twist is maximized for the intended caliber and bullet weight, that the barrel is free-floating, and that the trigger breaks clearly.
This is not funny. A sniper’s rifle is his wife. Just like a real wife, it should be showered with tender, loving care. You should know your wife! In your sniping nest, your rifles should be equipped with sturdy bipods to create a non-vibrating platform, powerful sniper scope with telescopic sight, and adjustable butt stocks, cheek pads, and trigger shoes that can be adapted to fit the individual sniper firing the weapon.
I’m sorry to say that these are the necessary ingredients if you want not to miss your target. Sniper rifles come as either bolt action or semi-automatic. The bolt action is ideal for precision shooting, with the semi-automatic serving as back-up fire support. Our Filipino soldiers could have practiced this in the firing range.
In counterterrorism (just like in Marawi where the Maute-Isis fighters are increasing everyday, where rapid follow-up shots are often necessary, the semi-automatic sniper rifle (with a five or 20 round-magazine) is usually the preferred choice. I just don’t know if the American advisers will allow the Filipino soldiers to use the “made in China” sniper rifles. The rifles have “instructions” in Chinese.
The American advisers could be comfortable only with Roban SR-9- and SR-60 (used by numerous Swat teams and domestic security agencies, or the one used by the Marine Corps, Navy Seals, Delta Force or FBI. Since sniping requires killing terrorist at long range or disabling equipment such as aircraft and vehicles, the counterterrorism snipers should use the .50 caliber rifle (used during the 1991 Gulf War).
Not just anybody can be a sniper. Snipers belong to the elite group of our Armed Forces of the Philippines or Philippine National Police. A sniper should master a “cat and mouse game.” He should always anticipate the possible nest of the opponent sniper. He should camouflage himself. In the case of Marawi City, the terrorists are on top of the ruins. If possible, the snipers of the friendly forces should be in the same level. If it is hard for the snipers to hit their target, they can always request for air strike after giving the exact location of the enemies.
Sniping is like a game of poker. You have to convince the enemy that you are not in a place where he thinks that you should be. Our snipers are oftentimes confused because the Maute-Isis fighters are using the hostages as human shields. The case in Marawi City is learning about what went right and what went wrong. Thousands of civilians have been terrorized. Many fled to safety to other towns and cities. This is expected by the terrorists.
We can only hope and pray that this Marawi tragedy will come to an end. This is an acid test for President Digong’s democratic solution in conflict areas. We rely on his skill to hit the target, not his mouth.