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Volume 3 / Issue 2 / Winter 2016 Military Operations

Page 6

The benefits from squad designated marksman training would also

go beyond simply providing small units with trained sharpshooters.

The DMs, having gained a far fuller knowledge of marksmanship and

a host of associated skills (range estimation, observation techniques,

ballistics) in their training, would gradually build up these skills

throughout the infantry as a whole, resulting in a better-trained force

across the board.[xii] An army with trained DMs in all of its rifle

squads will be one that is restoring a hunter or “jaeger” mindset to its

men, a mindset that has been dulled by the past decade of presence

patrols and key leader engagements. For all of these reasons, the

designated marksman’s full inclusion in the doctrine, training, and

equipment of Western infantry units is long overdue.

Capt Barndollar is an infantry officer of the United States Marine Corps. He recently served as a combat advisor with the Georgian Army’s

Batumi Battalion in Afghanistan.


[i] This number is illusory from the outset, because it does not account for the inaccuracy of the M855 cartridge most commonly issued. See Major Thomas P.

Ehrhart,‘Increasing Small Arms Lethality in A


Back the Infantryman’s Half-Kilometer’. Monograph, U.S.Army School of Advanced Military Studies,

2009, p. 2, and First Sergeant (Retired) D. Robert Clements,‘The Designated Marksman Equation’, Infantry,Vol. 97, No. 5 (September-October 2008), p. 48.

[ii] Ehrhart, p. 24.

[iii] C. J. Chivers,‘Afghan Marksmen – Forget the Fables’, New York Times At War blog, 26 March 2010 (available online,



com/2010/03/26/afghan-marksmen-forget-the-fables/, accessed 26 May 2015).

[iv] The Officers of Golf Company, 2d Battalion, 5th Marines,‘It’s Not the Artillery’s Fault’, Marine Corps Gazette, March 2013, pp. 40-43.

[v] FM 3-22.9 Rifle Marksmanship,M16-/M4-Series Weapons (2008), p. 7-62.

[vi] Clements, p. 49.

[vii] Ehrhart, pp. 26-28.

[viii] US Marine Corps annual rifle qualification includes prone shooting out to 500 yards, albeit with archaic “loop slings” until recent revisions. See MARADMIN


[ix] Major Tyson Andrew Johnson,‘The USAMU Squad Designated Marksman’s Course (A Student’s Perspective)’, Infantry,Vol. 97, No. 4,(July-August 2008), pp. 47-

51. SDMs were allocated to US Army squads at a rate of one per squad, later changed to two.

[x] CWO4 Charles F. Colleton,‘A New Page in Combat Marksmanship’, Marine Corps Gazette, January 2004, pp. 46-47 and R. R. Keene,‘The Corps’ Guardian

Angels Tote One Hell of a Rifle’, Leatherneck, September 2009, pp. 36-38.

[xi] Risk aversion at all levels, an over-reliance on fire support, the primacy of force protection, and an overuse of special operations forces are some of the most


[xii] This is especially true in the US Army, where the 300 yard marksmanship qualification range does not even require wind holds to be successful.

The Precision Engagement Gap

Gil Barndollar