The U.S. Air Force’s counter-sniper program and the use of the M24 Sniper Weapon System have gained significant importance since the Global War on Terror began.
The program predates 9/11 and has continued to evolve over the years, with the M24 remaining a key component due to its precision and battle-proven effectiveness.
The program’s forward-thinking nature is evident in its early inclusion of female snipers, with subsequent graduates breaking barriers.
The training process for becoming a certified Air Force sniper involves specialized courses and familiarization with the M24 weapon system.
“The United States Air Force most commonly employs the M24 Sniper Weapon System for its precision shooting needs. The M24 SWS is referred to as a weapon system because it isn’t only the rifle; the system includes the accessories and attachments that help the rifle be used more effectively, like optics and a bipod…The rifle itself is a modified version of the venerable Remington 700, a common bolt-action hunting rifle that’s been ubiquitous in the United States since the 1960s,” stated the Public Affairs office at Minot AFB.
“There are variations on the M24, but the most common configuration is chambered for the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge, and has a 24-inch barrel. The M24 weighs about 16 pounds with all of its attachments onboard…The effective range of the 7.62 NATO version is officially documented at 800 meters, but during the Iraq War, Army Staff Sgt. Jim Gilliland made a confirmed kill at 1,250 meters with an M24 chambered in the cartridge.”
“Day or night, our job is to take out a target before he can fire at one of our multimillion dollar aircraft or kill someone,” said former USAF Security Forces SSgt Larry Knoll.
“USAF Security Forces Counter Snipers Teams were first trained at The Air Force Counter Sniper School at Camp Joseph T. Robinson Army National Guard facility in Arkansas,” the USAF Police Alumni Association page reads.
“In 2008 the school was moved to Ft Bliss outside El Paso, TX. The course was renamed Close Precision Engagement Team with the move to Bliss. Beginning with Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Air Force Security Forces leaders recognized the need for a specialized team to aid in base exterior reconnaissance and to support Security Forces personnel outside the base perimeter… The process for Airmen to become a certified Air Force sniper begins with the Advanced Designated Marksman course, an 11-day training course that familiarizes the Airman with the M24 weapon system.”
“Following ADM and through recommendation of instructors, an Airman can return to Fort Bliss, Texas to attend the 19-day Close Precision Engagement Course to learn field techniques and tactics to use in conjunction with the information learned during ADM.”
The program’s development reflects the Air Force’s recognition of the need for specialized teams to aid in base security and support personnel outside the base perimeter.
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