A New Sniper Duel in Helmand

Reporting for the Wall Street Journal, Michael Phillips discloses that it seems we have an Afghan Zaitsev in Helmand.

According to his reports with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, a sniper has been plinking at Marines and Brits this month near Sangin, killing one Marine and one Brit and wounding another Marine. Two other Marines were hit and survived.

Somewhere in this dusty town, concealed among the cornfields, irrigation canals and mud-walled compounds, is a man the Marines particularly want to kill.

They don’t know what he looks like. But they know he is a very good shot with a long rifle, and, every day he remains alive, he is drawing Marine blood.

In the seven days since the men of Lima Company, Third Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment arrived in town, the Sangin sniper has persecuted them with methodical, well-aimed shots, fired one at a time. 

And this guy seems pretty skilled. He killed two people on the same day with incredibly precise shooting…

A  British army engineer—20-year-old Darren Foster from Carlisle, England—was in a guard post in front of the same patrol base. British troops have built a covered, bunkered pathway so the guards aren’t exposed to enemy fire as they walk down from the hilltop base. The post is protected by bulletproof glass, except for small gaps through which the guards fire their weapons. The sniper timed his single shot and killed the engineer as he walked past the opening.

So the Marine snipers went hunting. According to Phillips the Leatherneck sharpshooters don’t call their Taliban oponent a “sniper” — just a “marksman.” But it got me to wondering how counter-sniper operations have been adapted for Afghanistan where the sharpshooters are arguably more experienced and better trained than their Iraqi counterparts and use different types of cover under tighter ROE restrictions.

Just an FYI on this same subject, I’ll be heading on vacation for two weeks starting Monday and on that trip I’ll be reading my good friend and former colleague from Army Times Gina Cavallaro’s new book “Sniper: American Single-Shot Warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan” while I’m soaking up some rays and slinging flies at hungry trout. I’ll let you know how it read when I get back.

63 Comments on "A New Sniper Duel in Helmand"

  1. Hmmm seems we need a new Carlos Hathcock to come deal with this pest. The Afghan sniper is probably NOT using your average AK-47 (Type-56) or SKS-45 like Iraqi bad guys used. Probably a SVD Dragonov or a Mosin Nagant with a PU scope. They been seen in Taliban hands in Afghanistan for decades. Another rifle he might use is a .303 Enfeild rifle afghan sharp shooter since the British wars about a 100 years ago. Soviet troops feared Enfeild armed shooters since many of them were very skilled shooters. We should pursue the same idea on this about snipers.

  2. I don't think the Taliban have that skillset. Maybe an import.

  3. M.G.Halvorsen | August 19, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Reply

    Syrian or Chechen would probably be Al Qiada, Taliban would be local talent…or, possibly Pakistani? Hmmmm…

  4. They are skilled marksman from hunting canyon to canyon…

  5. SO he might be a local… esp since as soon as new unit arrived he began

  6. flash backs anyone?

  7. Fighter need a good training in markmanship.

  8. OK, let's get the 'corporate memory' in gear! Isn't there a vehicle mounted acoustic devise used to DETECT INCOMMING rifle fire? I have seen this unit on the 'Military Channel' and it really works!!

  9. I had thought that the counter-sniper detection system was operational? Maybe we should ask some of our friends to borrow one of them to get this guy…

  10. The sniper is like a fish swimming in the sea of the populace, among a school of fish. He will be almost impossible to detect with any surity.

  11. Phillip Smith | August 20, 2010 at 6:09 am | Reply

    I would not put it out of the of question that it could be a Taliban shooter. The British through Americans were just Back Woodsmen and be no match for the Mighty Red Coats. Also it could be a female, unlikely, but some of the best snipers in WW2 for the Russians were females.

    But it is more likely that it is a out of towner doing the shooting. Good Hunting to the Marines, hope you get him or her soon.

  12. There was that SAS trained Sniper – maybe its him.

  13. You bet, lets get our technological superiority out there and save my buddies!

  14. Seconds the need for a next gen Carlos (RIP and Semper Fi)

  15. Anyone obtain the actual round from one of his victims to determine the caliber of the weapon this sniper is using and thus better know his capabilities and limitations ?

  16. Chechen would be my bet, though I have encountered very proficient native afghan riflemen.

  17. He's not a local. This has to be an import. Wouldnt suprise me if it was a russian. There is rifles that shoot the 7.62 x 54r round out tere, might be a dragonov clone. Those in good hands have been known to hole a target at close to a mile. They need to study where the hits where made, and how they line up. Shooters like this always parrallel move in lines, move at night. Always backtrack skipping past points to reshoot later.

  18. The sniper is probably an import – Blackwater (Xe). You know, they work for anybody, at any price. They're guns for hire and have no loyalty. Kinda like the Mexican Zetas (trained by our US military and when they went back after the training, they got out of the military and offered their skills to the highest bidders – drug cartels).

  19. From experience in Iraq, these people have very good skills when it comes to sniping…. NO they may not be as good as the Army or Marines due to the lack of training, but all it takes is one good shot!!!

  20. why russian? we have experienced americans trading sides.

    as scary as that maybe. possible?

  21. no-so-sharp-shooter | August 20, 2010 at 8:23 pm | Reply

    wow, time for a full-metal internet-circle-jerk over this fool, yeah? I love a bunch of damn fools talking about another bunch of damn fools who are being powned by some other damn fools, it really makes the "world-go-round," so to speak:)

    Just sayin'…

  22. I am pretty sure he is a local…. ask the Soviets in the 80's they had to deal with Afgan snipers, so did the British in 1840 and 1879.

  23. This guy [the enemy sniper] has pissed off an entire Regiment of Marines. He's on borrowed time.

  24. Don't discount the posibility that the shooter could be a local. These folks have been doing this to foreigners since time began. The Soviets found out what an Afghan with a SMLE can do early on. Some of these old boys have sniping in their blood and this is just carrying on the family tradition. Good luck and good hunting, Marines! Semper Fi…and bag the bastard!

  25. Say I am not a county sherrif. So I have to ask, how can anyone say that the same person has been resposible for the attacks? Were the bullets examined and determined to have come from the same gun? Really? Well how do we know for sure that the gun does not pass from brother to brother?
    This story sounds pretty phony to me. Also the details are contridictory, one marine was wounded…… no two were hit and survived, but hey they were not even wounded. I guess that means that due to the long range of the shot and the supirior quality of their body armour they suffered only a bruises. Damn they did not even get a Purple Heart to commemorate their close call with death. Well hold on there just a minute. If they got bruises that means that they bled internally. They actually can not refuse their Purple Hearts now even if they wanted to. Refusing a gift is bad manners. We can not deny them the PH because they did not bleed enough. That would lead to all kinds of problems trying to decide which wounds are extensive enough to be elligable for a PH and which ones are not. Yes now days people will do anything for attention too.
    Well I imagine that you will not CEE me here again. Unless the subject under dissection is ice cream.

  26. someone over there needs to own this cat, and place his/her DEAD ass for the world to see when you mess with my brothers in arms on facebook

  27. seems like alot of speculation and guess work here by people who dont know the facts. Might as well throw in a JFK "magic bullet" theory with all the BS listed above. Get down to the facts. There is a sniper hidden among a populace. He is skilled enough to shoot a moving target, through a small slot, at a distance great enough/ or with enough cover and concealment to be a threat to good guys. It doesnt matter his nationality. It only matters how he/she is dealt with. Between drones, satellites, SOG, and other highly classified resources-this shooters days are numbered. What makes the grass grow!

    • Really!!! You spoke it well…… Go Get Them Marines!!! Cut them up, **** em over GOOD!!! Teach those AHs to mess with you and ours. You got the Mission Support , now do your Job and Rule the Range

  28. The US Joint Chiefs and the Britsh Defence Staff will just lap up this bombshell.
    I'm sure the respective CoC's will be able to use your dazzling insights.
    It's not like they've been on the ground for the last nine years.

  29. Deane Gilmour | August 22, 2010 at 4:10 am | Reply

    Sounds like it is past time for that particular post to be manned by a three man team. Guard in the post and Spotter and Sniper to its flanks. All on talkies and connected with arty in the rear. "Arty, bringing calm to the confusion"

  30. Who or Whoever doesn't make a Damn bit of difference! M.C. take this guy D o w n NOW. From me to you, you got my suppot. Let the BAD GUYS all know they are on UNCLE SAM'S LIST. God Speed to all you all in the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army , U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force serving our country there in harms way,

  31. This shooter has scored two big KIA's for the jihadi propaganda machine. He needs to be terminated with extreme prejudice. DOD should form a voluntary unit from the departing IRAQ U.S. troops ( top snipers). A company sized QRF of counter-snipers to move around in country and dispatch these vermin ASAP.

  32. So many racist comments here – so the Afghani's are incapable of actually having an intelligent, capable and brave warrior?

    Knock of the racist crap, at least the Russians and Soviets respected (feared) each other's snipers. This Afghan warrior is good, he's talented and no matter what, he deserves the respect of being a capable shooter regardless. The Vietnamese too were thought to be too ignorant to have any good snipers – yet they did – as did the Koreans and the Japanese in the two wars preceding Vietnam.

    America maybe great, but it is not the only country capable of creating talent and skill.

  33. Just keep your rifles ready and your powder ready. The PIG's and HOG's of 3/7 will wack this guy, as long as the O's don't get in the way of a good hunt. Happy Hunting brothers!

  34. Do we know who we are shooting at? Make sure it's not one of ours.

  35. lost frontiersman | August 22, 2010 at 9:45 pm | Reply

    I am sure that the intelligence effort is working on his background and real ID so he can be found when he's not in the field and the USMC are hunting him for when he is. The fact that the story is realsed is probably an indication that the USMC feel they are close, setting up a winning story. Best of luck to the guys out there.

  36. This article is about U.S. Marines and a insurgent sniper trying to kill them yet the photo on the top of the page shows a U.S. Army sniper? Yes, we are all for jointness but you might want to match the correct service with the information given.

  37. William Whitley | August 23, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Reply

    We can all sit here and speculate which is fine assuming you have experienced war up close and personal. The Marines will get him end of story. Racist comment??? We're talking about our enemies and there aint no race card when it comes to them. Really tired of the politically correct BS. WW I and ll we fought the Krauts / Japs, Korea and Vietnam we fought Gooks. We earned the right to to use these names for our foe. No I wouldn't visit Nam and use the word Gook today but when talking to another Vet we fought the Gooks!!!!!

  38. Never realized that GySgt. Carlos Hatcock's name was inappropiate.

  39. I wouldn't classify this guy as another Zaitsev…

  40. I would have put YOU out front to lead a team to track this sniper—M.Stevens, retired Col. USMC

  41. My guess is it's a Russian sniper. I saw their handy work in Korea that put me in the hospital for 8 mos., they taught the North Korean's how to fire mortor's not to mention the ammo they supplied the kook's with the Russian star stamped on it., yep, they've been a thorn in our side since WW2 and still are today.He won't be easy to find but he should be no.1 on the hit list, our sniper's are the best in the world whlich he will find out soon enough. Go get him Marine's,
    Semper Fi.

  42. Dee….you are 100% right.borrowed time !!…..I faught with Golf /3/11 1967 gun# 3 –Gun #4.. center platoon, operation Desoto, in Duc pho, Vn, where Sgt Hathcock had a field day in three months of fighting, Carlos killed 65 zips…..in the Ducpho area alone….thats all i have to say about this ******……..R.I.P.Gunny…..you went over and beyond you call.

  43. You are spot on William, We did earn that right, You don't call someone nice things when he is shooting at you.
    I wonder if "they" called us PC names wen we were shooting at them, I don't think so.

    There is nothing special about this guy, just another sniper to deal with. And the Marines will deal with him.

  44. check youtube,there a jihad vid of a talib team attacking FOBS and low n behold theres a guy firing a single shot bolt action weapon,firing one round ducking down changing postion.Hes good.hope hes kia asap.

  45. It's not just this one guy, I say let him lead us to his friends and let the gun bunnys at em.

  46. Dont forget to take your medicine CEE! –

  47. sniperman0317 | August 27, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Reply

    Really? Did you come up with that all by yourself? Our enemies need more guys like you completely stupid.

  48. sniperman0317 | August 27, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Reply

    Well said Villain7. I mean seriously guys, A contractor from XE? Drug cartels? Get a Job, get educated and think for a second. this guy might shoot good or just get lucky. I'm sure he is going to slip up very soon. Counter sniper is something marines can do very well obviously.

  49. They were importrs. The SAS tracked them and sent them to shag thier 72 GOATS..BZ SAS

  50. Hey Emil
    Thanks for your brave service for our country's safety. If I owned Harley Davidson I would give every vet one. Our countrys heroes can never be forgotten, you faced what probably seemed like certain death for our sake. Kudo's my friend.
    Joseph Jones

  51. He might be Iranian. They have been trying to make life uncomfortable for us in AStan.

  52. Then again after some thought could be a former Bosnian Muslim. I ran into a few former Yugoslavian Muslims in Quetta in Pakistan. I was surprised to see them there. Anyone who was in Bosnia in the early to mid nineties knows that sniper alley was a fun run.

  53. I was there for this so I got pretty good first hand knowledge of this story. It was two guys one was chechnian (or however you spell it sorry) and he was training a younger guy on how to shoot. That is how we knew which one shot. The old guy shot someone died, the young guy shot they lived. Both are dead now due to a gun run from an f-18 not a bomb. Our snipers could not engage because they were firing from murder holes in a heavily urban area. They were good and yes they scared the **** out of us. And to whoever it was that said we should respect the afghans, sorry I refuse to respect someone that uses women and kids as human shields to fire on marines (ive personally witnessed this and witnessed marines have great restraint and not return fire) these are the basic down and dirty facts theres obviously a lot more to the story, you can take it or leave it up to you.

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