Sniper Continuity, a Warrant Officer Sniper MOS and Lessons Learned

“The United States Army needs to act. Snipers have a unique skill set that is not being used to its full capacity. The demand for their skills and expertise continues to increase, but the incentive for seasoned snipers to stay is non-existent. The framework and structure for a Warrant Officer sniper MOS would prove to be very successful and would continue the growth of the military’s greatest force multiplier, the sniper.”
SSG Christopher Rance, who recently competed in the Army Sniper Association‘s International Sniper Competition, has had an article published in Small Arms Review. Though much of what he says may sound like common sense to Kit Up! readership, the simple fact that he needed to write it all is ample proof that – like many lessons from many conflicts in the past – Big Army (and all of DoD) frequently forgets what it has learned…or chooses to ignore it. In addition to making some points about continuation and training, he discusses lessons learned from the competition.
“Snipers are becoming an increasingly valued weapon in the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan. A definite renaissance of sniping is being seen across the front lines of war. The sniper was such an effective tool in Iraq that the sniper’s tactical comeback in Afghanistan is being facilitated by the mounting concerns over the number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan caused by collateral damage from coalition air strikes. This has made the sniper the military’s most cost effective, discriminating fighting machine in the Global War on Terror. As the military draws down and budget cuts loom, the military will place additional dependence on affordable force multipliers.
Two of the most effective force multipliers currently in the war on terror are unmanned aerial drones (UAVs) and the modern military sniper. These force multipliers can be outfitted to emphasize any role necessary, from reconnaissance to combat and everything in between. Both are relatively inexpensive and fit well into the military’s transformation to a smaller, more agile force.”
  • Ron

    Wow a army sniper with a opinion…never met one who could out shoot a Marine sniper.

    Sorry but i prefer true shooters not wanna bees. no disrespect but Army just can’t do what we do they don’t train at the ranges we do and they sure don’t push themselves as hard… You can say what you want but we still rule the battle field…..

    • Opinions are for the comfort of home and safety. No one cares much who helps them save their life and their brothers and what uniform or patch they wear.



    • Gods Hammer

      That’s funny considering the Marines can barely hold down any part of their AO. Where’s your boat? We all know you’re just glorified Seamen….

    • Christopher Rance

      I wrote this article to identify the strengths of all Military snipers. I’m sorry you feel that the Army is lacking in the sniper department but I beg to differ. I would gladly accept any challenge on a “shoot off”.

      Also the main point of this article is how do we make the sniper “more” effective? For the Army, that starts with implementing a MOS that empowers the Sniper Employment Officer so he can make sound decisions on employing snipers on the battlefield.

    • Did you even bother to read the article Ron? Because judging by the content of your post within the context of this article and the discussion is supposed to engender you are the wannabe. Perhaps in the future you can leave pointless one-upsmanship aside and concentrate on subject at hand.

    • John lee

      Sad sad little man Ron, must have a complex. Or problems with people having opinions, I know you guys are told what your opinion will be in the marines. Again, as everyone else said, I believe you missed the entire point of the article. Shut your hole and be the silent professional your supposed to be

    • Don


      Met many a great Marine during my days in Army Special Forces (Green Berets).

      I served during “The Nam,” total service 1971-1981. Last year sent some cigars to a Marine Detachment in Afghanistan. The Marines (trained the best man to man except for special units).

      Have you ever seen a Army SF Sniper in action? Well, if you could, you might have asked Pablo Escobar in Columbia. Sorry, he cannot answer.

      I would still give my all for a Marine or any other combat guy!

  • Joshua Respecki

    Sure as the sun rises, someone will come in grab their belt buckles, swing their dicks around and say how their branch or their MOS is better.

  • Roger

    To establish a warrant mos is a good thing in keeping alive lessons learned and skills to pass to new sniper students. @ Ron: It’s probably why the marines lose every year at the annual international sniper competition at ft benning ga…just sayin’.

  • Ryan

    If worrying about who is better, Army or the Marines, then you CLEARLY missed the point of this article. Get over Branch pride and focus on the subject of this article that the capabilities of all Snipers, no matter Army or USMC, are being squandered. And why is it at the International Sniper Competition, Special Forces Sniper Competition, Camp Perry, and many other competitions, no USMC team has made it into the top 5???? just saying…

    and to MOS: get bent.

  • dustin

    gods hammer, didn’t army lose control of iraq in ’03 after we left making it necessary for us to return in 04? i’m not d*ck measuring cause i’m hung like a midget in a cold shower

  • The article brings out some good, salient points for sure..well for dick in the know, knows the Snipers from the “Great white north” are the best…and yes..they have won the Competition in Benning.. ;o)

  • Jim

    What range do you shoot at Ron? The balloons at the Carnival don’t count no matter how much “tactical gear” you buy.

  • majrod

    Warrant officer (with the requirement to attend the warrant course at Ft. Rucker like all other warrants) isn’t going to increase retention. If there are four warrant slots in a BDE (one per maneuver BN and one at BDE) that just doesn’t provide enough opportunity for the 12 E6’s or E7’s in the BDE. There is also no guarantee that “seasoned” snipers will be the ones selected or will apply to the warrant path. Retention would be better impacted with special skill pay.

    Nor is a warrant officer going to ensure snipers are appropriately trained, resourced and employed. No doubt snipers are going to know how to train other snipers, what tools work and don’t work and how they should be employed but warrant rank often isn’t adequate enough in a BN or higher staff to impact those things. If snipers want tp really ensure they are used well and right they should embrace training some officers and more importantly ensure sniper employment is incorporated into officer and NCOES courses up to at least the advanced level (CPT’s course and ANCOC).

    That’s not to say I’m totally against the idea. I differ with the author in that it’s true we have repeatedly ignored snipers on the battlefield we have also always learned to employ them effectively and quickly. The author is also making the mistake we consistently make in planning to fight the next war like the last one. All that said, a warrant with advanced marksmanship skills would help any infantry BN where marksmanship training for too long and too often is a check the block exercise. This is one area where the Army could afford to take a lesson from the Marines in how they employ the “gunner” position in their company (an NCO) and BN (and higher) organizations (a warrant). Snipers may want to look outward in what they can do for the force beyond being snipers vs. what the force can do for snipers.

  • Atlatl

    In head-to-head competition with the Army, Marines consistantly lose! Review the history, going back 10-20 years for (1) the International Sniper Competition held at Ft. Benning each year, (2) the Special Operational Forces Sniper Competition held at Ft. Bragg for the last 4 years, and the Assult weapons marksmanship competiton held at Marine Base Quanico each year. The Marines never even come close to the U.S. Soldiers.

  • Kazinnng…now theres a bulls

  • Clinine mills

    If that were the case Marines would win the international sniper comp every year. Not to mention the longest shot is held by a Canadian, and most kills for OIF/OEF is held by a SEAL. I hate to make comments like this because I have nothing but respect for USMC.

    • Atlatl

      I used to have respect for the USMC but in the last few years their constant denigration of the other services publicly in numerous blogs, magazines, newspapers etc, have given me the idea that they are a very insecure branch of our military.

      • Clinine mills

        I agree, I was in the Army but I would never air dirty laundry about other branches in public.

  • Scot7

    The Warrant Officer structure in the Marine Corps allows for the continuity and growth of technical expertise and experience over a long period of time for a Marine’s professional career (it also eliminates the requirement for career-broadening tours outside their specialty). Properly employed, a program like this works extremely well. I worked with many Marine Corps Gunners and never failed to be impressed by their expertise, professionalism and results. I think SSG Rance’s recommendation is spot on for a specialty like Sniper.

    Disregard the “Ron” comment – not the sentiment shared by this Marine or other Marines who value the competency of professional combat arms practioners – regardless of their service affiliation!

    Worked with many brothers in arms who pack the gear and then some.

    • Don

      Well fellow ‘Brothers,’ I would gleam that my posting generated some great comments.

      I say ‘Brothers,’ as that is what warriors and those who have served in combat are and will always be. I believe that ‘specialists’ no matter what their expertise, can serve in enlisted ranks, however a consideration would be additional pay as the military has done in other specialty areas. If snipers and others are commissioned warrant officers then this may lead to actions that ‘armchair quarterbacks’ could, shall I say, exploit or make some mistakes (like back in my day, when a combat soldier/marine was submitted (for an award, who deserved it, however did not as it was ‘downgraded’ for numerous reasons). We are all on the same team and that indicates committment, professionalism and respect.

      Something for all of us to remember:

      “War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him.

      The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practioner.”


  • Robert W. Gonzales

    I’m a 100% Disabled Vietnam Veteran, 0311 USMC. I pulled 3 tours and it didn’t matter if you were Army or Marine Green. We fought in battle and bled the same. We collected our wounded and are dead. We held memorial services to pay our respect. I saw action on many different levels. There were times when Soldiers came to “Our Aid” and Marines “Aided Soldiers”! In battle we’re all “Americans”. The point concerning a career path for trained enlisted “Snipers” is warranted. In battle it’s important to remember that the better equipped your “Kit” is, it’s more likely you’ll survive. Who is better qualified than are enlisted NCOs? They’ve been in the fight.


    • Rawhide

      Oustanding comment, Mr. Gonzales. I agree completely. More soldiers need to understand and hear the opinions and experiences of men such as yourself.



  • Moondawg

    I agree with the authors premise, although I am not sure about warrant rank for all snipers. Maybe, for a few of the most senior and experiences snipers, and only as a form of career progression. I whole heartedly agree that a separate MOS is needed, along with some form of pro pay or specialty pay. I also have to agree with Majrod, that the Army desperately needs to invest more time and $ in basic marksmanship training and proficiency on the rifle/carbine not only for the grunts, but for everyone, even the REMFs.

  • Christopher Rance

    The warrant officer role would be two fold.
    1. The Warrant Officer is the Sniper Employment officer in charge of the training and deployment of his assigned sections per Army BDE. He oversees the sections selection, schooling and training and advises and assists the Battalion cmdr and fellow company commanders on sniper employment.

    2. The WO would also take charge of overseeing the role and responsibility of marksmanship training for the Battalion. He advises and assists each company commander on meeting the highest achievable standard on marksmanship training.

    Why spend the money to send PL’s, Company commanders, Battalion and BDE commanders to a school to learn sniper employment operations when you have an “In House” WO to learn from.

    The WO position would be run by a board who selects the most qualified candidate to assume that position. This position would only be open to enlisted Sniper qualified E-5 to E-6 personal who has a minimum of 12 months of time served in an actual sniper billet position.

    The pipeline of the WO would be the WO candidate school, Battle Staff planning, various skill level schools like BRMC, RSLC ect.. To make a well rounded WO to serve as a “true” Employment Officer.

    This will allow the seasoned enlisted sniper a way to continue to give back to the sniper community and the assigned BCT. Only the most qualified would serve in this position.

  • Rawhide

    I support all of the branches and I also would never disrespect other branches. There always has been an inherent sense of competition at at times, a sense of self entitlement between branches and even certain MOS’s. I support the Army and the comments about a Warrant MOS for Snipers. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter who is yelling for help on the radio, we would all risk our lives for anyone who needed help, Marine, Sailor or Airman alike. Let’s put aside the B.S. and focus on the mission. To all the snipers, serive aside, you’re in my thoughts and prayers. God Speed.


  • Hogwash

    Ron you sound like a butt hurt slug who dropped out of an indoc. You don’t have a tooth to stand on, boot.

    • Don

      I totally agree with “Rawhide.” Military members do not disrespect others (are you reading this “Hogwash?”)

      The reason, just do some research and have a military bearing that no matter what branch of service one serves in, we all are ‘Brothers.’

      Did you serve in “The Nam?” Marines assisted the Army and other branches. Those other branches assisted the Marines.

      My best to you!

  • omar

    the army of this day and age is ignorant and will never know the true value of snipers, all sniper qualified personnel should get out and use their skills in the civilian world where it means more to be sniper qualified than in the army itself

    • Don


      Your comments are enlightening.

      I disagree as I believe the military and ‘certain’ sections that are classified have the better snipers.

      ” – – – – – use their skills in the civilian world where it means more to be sniper qualified than in the army itself.”

      I do not follow that thinking.

  • Maria

    Great article Christopher! I’m sorry I hadn’t read it earlier. I was impressed by the numbers you gave in regards to how many rounds it takes per kill, very interesting. Knowledge is power and when you see it in writing it becomes even more clear to the average person what it takes to do what you guys do. The pictures were awesome and they provide a visual that words cannot discribe. Thank you for taking the time out to give us some insight of what it takes to be a sniper. Bless all of the servicemen and women who put their lives on the line, no matter what branch of the military you are in, no matter what war you served in, the gratitude can never be fully expressed in words. Thanks again for a great article and for the service you provide in the field.

  • Joey B

    Back in 2007-2008, we use to kick around the idea about how the Army needs to find a specific MOS for Snipers as well as a possible WO position that would act as the SEO at the BN and BCT level. SERE C should definitely be a follow on course as well as Pathfinder, RSLC, Ranger. Combat Tracker and good quality Call for Fire training with BN mortars and other indirect platforms would be beneficial. Sections need to develop good relationships with line companies because inevitably the teams will need to bring a 2-4 extra guys for security.

    As far as Army vs Marine argument, well I think thats just peoples egos needing stroking. Keep up the good work and there are a lot of people who would support this. Hopefully you’re working with the school house on this. Get some of the National Guard guys to work this as well. Good luck.