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.

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