Members of Task Group Taji 5 have delivered a sniper course to select members fo the Iraqi Army.
Students were selected from the 1st Iraqi Ranger Battalion, fresh from recent operations in Mosul against Daesh.
From ARMY Newspaper:
The Iraqi War against Islamic State has seen some of the most brutal street fighting since WWII. In the Battle of Mosul, virtually every street corner was covered by fire, and the Iraqi Security Forces had to fight inch-byinch to retake the city against a fanatical and entrenched enemy who employed snipers, obstacles and suicide bombers to great effect.
Fought in the shadows was a deadly game of cat and mouse between snipers of the Iraqi Army and Islamic State where success could provide great tactical advantages but mistakes could be lethal. Modern warfare in Iraq has seen a mix of conventional and insurgency-style operations where the ability to engage targets at longer ranges without exposure to small arms fire has often been the deciding factor in the engagement. In order to further increase their combat edge over the terrorist organisation, the Iraqi Army requires trained and competent snipers to engage targets at longer ranges in order to disrupt enemy movements on the battlefield.
As part of this overall force enhancement, the Iraqi Ranger Battalion has turned to their Australian and New Zealand instructors from Task Group Taji (TGT) to help train their snipers. Heading up the Iraqi Ranger Battalion training is Maj John Crockett from the Training Task Unit who said that the ability to employ effective snipers within an area of operations is a combat multiplier for the ISF.
“The majority of the snipers we are training here have combat experience and have seen recent success in Mosul,” he said. “They have seen what enemy snipers can do on the battlefield and they are here ready to learn how to give it right back. “These soldiers must be able to infiltrate to an area of operations, identify their target from a position of advantage, apply lethal fire from extended range and then extract themselves all while remaining undetected.”
The course is one of the most difficult training programs run by Task Group Taji with many potential snipers cut from the course for failing to meet the required standards. The level of fieldcraft and individual soldier skills required to be a sniper is extremely high. Within the Iraqi battlespace there are stark differences in terrain, ranging from open deserts, close-country and close urban environments.
Combined with the complexities of fighting in areas with a large civilian population, the task is tremendously difficult. Comd of TGT-5 Col Steve D’arcy said it is understood across the Task Group that almost every soldier who graduates from the course will likely see combat operations. “What we are providing to these trainees is skills that will enable them to be effective snipers,” he said. “They will be able to engage enemy targets with precision, move with stealth and be very hard to detect. “This will give the ISF an enhanced combat edge over Daesh including the ability to engage stand off targets and provide overwatch to ground forces.”
Upon graduation from the sniper training course, soldiers will return to active service almost immediately as the ISF clear the remaining Islamic State-held areas in Iraq.