Wednesday, January 04, 2006

3/4 mile shot

Bravo Zulu Staff Sgt Jim Gilliland. Glad you're on our team.

That is with a 30 cal, not 50 cal sniper rifle. 1,367 yards. Higher res here.

Serious work.
Gazing through the telescopic sight of his M24 rifle, Staff Sgt Jim Gilliland, leader of Shadow sniper team, fixed his eye on the Iraqi insurgent who had just killed an American soldier.

His quarry stood nonchalantly in the fourth-floor bay window of a hospital in battle-torn Ramadi, still clasping a long-barrelled Kalashnikov. Instinctively allowing for wind speed and bullet drop, Shadow's commander aimed 12 feet high.

Click to enlarge

A single shot hit the Iraqi in the chest and killed him instantly. It had been fired from a range of 1,250 metres, well beyond the capacity of the powerful Leupold sight, accurate to 1,000 metres.

"I believe it is the longest confirmed kill in Iraq with a 7.62mm rifle," said Staff Sgt Gilliland, 28, who hunted squirrels in Double Springs, Alabama from the age of five before progressing to deer - and then people.

"He was visible only from the waist up. It was a one in a million shot. I could probably shoot a whole box of ammunition and never hit him again."

Later that day, Staff Sgt Gilliland found out that the dead soldier was Staff Sgt Jason Benford, 30, a good friend.

Iraq factfile

The insurgent was one of between 55 and 65 he estimates that he has shot dead in less than five months, putting him within striking distance of sniper legends such as Carlos Hathcock, who recorded 93 confirmed kills in Vietnam. One of his men, Specialist Aaron Arnold, 22, of Medway, Ohio, has chalked up a similar tally.
With an American sense of humor.
All told, the 10-strong Shadow sniper team, attached to Task Force 2/69, has killed just under 200 in the same period and emerged as the US Army's secret weapon in Ramadi against the threat of the hidden Improvised Explosive Device (IED) or roadside bomb - the insurgency's deadliest tactic.

Above the spot from which Staff Sgt Gilliland took his record shot, in a room at the top of a bombed-out observation post which is code-named Hotel and known jokingly to soldiers as the Ramadi Inn, are daubed "Kill Them All" and "Kill Like you Mean it".

On another wall are scrawled the words of Senator John McCain: "America is great not because of what she has done for herself but because of what she has done for others."
And the right attitude.
"Hunters give their animals respect," he said, spitting out a mouthful of chewing tobacco. "If you have no respect for what you do you're not going to be very good or you're going to make a mistake. We try to give the benefit of the doubt.

"You've got to live with it. It's on your conscience. It's something you've got to carry away with you. And if you shoot somebody just walking down the street, then that's probably going to haunt you."

Although killing with a single shot carries an enormous cachet within the sniper world, their most successful engagements have involved the shooting a up to 10 members of a single IED team.

"The one-shot-one-kill thing is one of beauty but killing all the bad dudes is even more attractive," said Staff Sgt Gilliland, whose motto is "Move fast, shoot straight and leave the rest to the counsellors in 10 years" and signs off his e-mails with "silent souls make.308 holes".
Hat tip ILYS. (see, I H/T'd a French guy. Fair and balanced...)

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