Secrecy News

Sniper Training Manual Remains Offline (at FAS)

“When… dealing with multiple targets, such as two hostage-takers, [snipers] must coordinate to fire simultaneously,” according to a U.S. Army sniper training manual.  “Taking [the targets] out one at a time may allow the second suspect time to harm the hostages.”

This was the scenario facing Navy SEALs on the Indian Ocean on April 12.  They fired simultaneously at three Somali pirates, killing them and rescuing an American hostage.

“Shooting simultaneously by command fire with another sniper is a very important skill to develop and requires much practice,” the Army manual advises.

A copy of the U.S. Army Special Forces Sniper Training and Employment manual (FM 3-05.222) was obtained by Secrecy News.  Although the document is unclassified, it is subject to restricted distribution in order “to protect technical or operational information.”

For once, such restrictions appear to make sense and the 474-page manual will not be posted on the Federation of American Scientists website.  But as always, views on the question of disclosure differ.  A 2003 discussion on the “Shooter’s Forum” website presented contrasting opinions on the desirability of publishing this Manual.

Update (04/15/09): As noted at today, the document has been made available online elsewhere.