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Sniper shot that took out an insurgent killer from three quarters of a mile
Toby Harnden in Ramadi
(Filed: 01/01/2006)

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.

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.

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.

"It was elating, but only afterwards," said Staff Sgt Gilliland, recalling the September 27 shot. "At the time, there was no high-fiving. You've got troops under fire, taking casualties and you're not thinking about anything other than finding a target and putting it down. Every shot is for the betterment of our cause."

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."

The juxtaposition of macho slogans and noble political rhetoric encapsulates the dirty, dangerous and often callous job the sniper has to carry out as an integral part of a campaign ultimately being waged to help the Iraqi people.

With masterful understatement, Lt Col Robert Roggeman, the Task Force 2/69 commander, conceded: "The romantic in me is disappointed with the reception we've received in Ramadi," a town of 400,000 on the banks of the Euphrates where graffiti boasts, with more than a degree of accuracy: "This is the graveyard of the Americans".

"We're the outsiders, the infidels," he said. "Every time somebody goes out that main gate he might not come back. It's still a running gun battle."

Highly effective though they are, he worries about the burden his snipers have to bear. "It's a very God-like role. They have the power of life and death that, if not held in check, can run out of control. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

"Every shot has to be measured against the Rules of Engagement [ROE], positive identification and proportionality."

Staff Sgt Gilliland explains that his Shadow team operates at the "borderlines" of the ROE, making snap judgements about whether a figure in the crosshairs is an insurgent or not.

"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".

Whether Shadow team's work will ultimately make a difference in Iraq is open to question. No matter how many insurgents they shoot, there seems no shortage of recruits to plant bombs.

Col John Gronski, the overall United States commander in Ramadi, said there could not be a military solution. "You could spend years putting snipers out and killing IED emplacers and at the political level it would make no difference."

As they prepare to leave Iraq, however, Staff Sgt Gilliland and his men hope that they have bought a little more time for the country's politicians to fix peace and stability in their sights.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/mai...01.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/01/01/ixnewstop.html
 

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Outstanding![up]

One Shot One Kill
 

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That's one heck of a shot... 1250 meters. That's over 12 football fields in length.

Nice shooting!

David
 

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For perspective, the last I heard the world RECORD was held by a Marine who shot an Iraqi soldier at just over 1 mile in the '91 Gulf War. But..HE was using a .50 Barrett.....BIG difference
 

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Gunny Hath [no swearing please] once mounted a scope on a 50 cal M-2 and shot a NVA at over a mile[up]
 

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Wow [up]
 

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Dave;

Where'd you get that? Its not in his biography.

Not saying its not possible, but the HB-M2 isn't exactly friendly to "precision shooting" with the double thumb trigger.
 

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I read it on a website dedicated to him. I am sure it is in one of the Marine Corps Sniper books also but not sure which one.If I can find the stroy I will post it.
 

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I miss spoke he used a Browning 50 cal Rifle not a Ma Duece.

Hathcock's 2500 yard confirmed kill with a .50 caliber Browning rifle-longest sniper kill ever documented

Sorry.
 

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With probably more than 300 kills during the Vietnam War, Carlos Hath [no swearing please] is the most famous sniper in United States History. The North Vietnamese put a $30,000 bounty on his head and called him "Long Trang" or White Feather. Hath [no swearing please] was once accredited with hitting a NVA at 2,500 yards with a special scope-adapted .50 caliber machine gun converted to single shot operation..

He was a True American Hero, yet Humble in every Way..
Semper Fi Brother...
 

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sse now this one lists it as a Ma Duece????

Hathcock's 2500 yard confirmed kill with a .50 caliber Browning machine gun-longest sniper kill ever documented
 

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Thanks GunnyFern

Semper Fi.
 

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Semper Fi Brother...
Gunnyfern, it didn't occur to me that the Gunny in your name meant Gunnery Sgt. I was one of Uncle Sam's Misguided Children from 84-88. Semper Fi Leatherneck
 

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nice shot
 

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For perspective, the last I heard the world RECORD was held by a Marine who shot an Iraqi soldier at just over 1 mile in the '91 Gulf War. But..HE was using a .50 Barrett.....BIG difference
Just for the record,big diff in weapon and ammo...

Killing shot made at distance of 2,430 metres
Stephen Thorne
Canadian Press
A world-record killing shot by a Canadian sniper detachment in Afghanistan could never have been made with the ammunition they were issued when they left Edmonton last winter, the triggerman said in a recent interview. The Canadian .50-calibre rounds have a maximum range of between 2,200 and 2,300 metres.

But the U.S. rounds, they discovered, "fly farther, faster," said Cpl. "Bill", a 26-year-old native of Fogo Island, Nfld.

The two-man Canadian team, coupled with American Sgt. Zevon Durham of Greenville, S.C., made the kill from 2,430 metres, or nearly 2 1/2 kilometres, on the second shot.

The first shot blew a bag from the hand of their target, an Al Qaeda fighter walking on a road.

"He didn't even flinch," said Bill, who spoke on condition that his real name not be used.

"We made a correction and the next round hit exactly where we wanted it to. Well, a bit to the right."

The kill, one of more than 20 unofficially accredited to Canadian snipers during Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan's Shah-i-Kot Valley, beat the 35-year-old record of 2,500 yards, or 2,250 metres, set by U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hath [no swearing please] in Duc Pho, South Vietnam.
 
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