"I could make out the head and shoulders of the insurgent as he was firing in the prone position. I aimed for the centre area . . . removed the safety catch and held that point of aim. Then I slowly and deliberately operated my trigger squeezing it gently to the rear. The round impacted into the target just below the shoulder. The target seemed to slide down disappearing out of sight, the rifle muzzle remained pointing uppermost in the air."
The author sets the scene with action on a 2004 tour in Iraq where hard lessons were learnt. Next stop Helmand District, Afghanistan, after rigorous training. By now he had been a Sniper Instructor for eight years and his depth of knowledge makes this almost a sniper’s manual. This, combined with his descriptions of the sniper engagements experienced during his Battalion’s action packed tour, make this a thrilling and instructive read. He describes not just the operational background moves and tactics but his emotionstaking life even from distances of a kilometer is traumatic. Intense though the action was, there were long periods of watching and waitingcalled Enduring Patience). Snipers work in pairs so relationship and trust are all important. Snipers are elite soldiers and clearly the author is among the best of the best.
A Sniper's Conflict is a superb account of professional soldiering at the sharp end.
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About the Author
Monty B is a highly experienced former British soldier and combat-proven military sniper who served as a sniper instructor for over fourteen of his twenty-six years in the military. He has instructed British and NATO forces in all aspects of military sniping in preparation for combat operations and commanded the sniper platoon in his regiment. His deployments to conflict zones include operational tours of Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as service in many other locations around the world during training for operations.
Read an Excerpt
Iraq: Al Amarah
18 April 2004 CIMIC House, C/S Alpha 20 Bravo
The day started like most of the days that had passed before: nice and cool in the early morning, with a fresh light breeze coming in off the River Tigris into the compound. The sun was starting to break through the low-lying dark grey clouds from the night before: the dawn of another long hot sweaty day soon approached. The small garden in our compound and its plant beds were being watered and tended by two of the locally-employed civilians who were very elderly men, dressed in their long white dishdashas, who worked in our location maintaining the garden areas. The grass was kept immaculately short, very green and lush to look at, with a narrow concrete pathway cutting through the garden area itself en route towards the cookhouse.
People in the surrounding buildings around CIMIC House were going about their normal business as usual. A few of them were hanging out washing on the washing-lines on their balconies in the early morning, hoping to catch the sun before the wind and dust picked up as usually happened around midday. Others were putting out the rubbish from the previous evening onto the front doorstep or out of the side doors of buildings that gave onto the side streets and alleyways which were full of rubbish and waste and where some wild dogs were scavenging among the piles of refuse for food. A few children started to come out to play in the streets, skylarking about and chasing the dogs away from the rubbish and into the small alleyways that threaded in-between every building and solid wall. A small group of older boys had just come out of one of the alleyways and started to play football in the street in front of the main entrance to our location, kicking a half-inflated ball around and chasing it. The beginning of another day loomed ahead of us at the start of our tour and to us it was just like any other morning we had experienced thus far.
By this time the sound of several vehicles from outside the compound could be heard starting up their engines to take to the roads: soon all the roads outside would be busy with cars and trucks. Also a few of the local old men from the buildings opposite started to come out of their houses, greeting each other in the normal manner and talking outside in the street opposite our location just as on any other day that had passed before. The shop-owners started to open their shops: metal shutters going up to reveal the sheet-glassed shop fronts; commodities ranging from electrical items to fruit and vegetables set out on small tables on the street. The start of a normal day: just the usual routine, another day closer to the end of the tour had begun, or so we thought.
Today's plan of action was that a mobile patrol would be carried out by the sniper platoon multiple in the areas surrounding our location using two Snatch Land Rovers. Nothing mad: just a routine mobile reassurance patrol and as always a call sign would provide the Quick Reaction Force while the patrol was out on task. This was up to us, the reconnaissance platoon multiple. As usual, our drivers had to take over the Snatch armoured vehicles from the off-going call sign on that task. This entailed parading them and making sure everything to do with the running of each vehicle was functioning as it should be. Any faults had to be rectified there and then, or reported to the Company Motor Transport Rep. The multiple 2ICs also started to take over the QRF kit and equipment on the vehicles, again ensuring it was all there, serviceable and ready to use. This included spare ammunition, medical equipment, crowd control equipment, spare water jerry cans and the most important bit of kit, the ECM.
All this happened at a relaxed pace. Everyone else was checking their own personal equipment, packing the vehicles and going through breakfast. Ian being the multiple commander and myself the multiple 2IC, we went up to the operations room for a detailed brief on the patrol route, timings and marking-up of our maps and a back-brief on the previous night's events. We had all the information we required and briefed the remainder of the QRF. All the kit and equipment was good to go, the wagons were ready, and ourselves suited and booted with all weapons prepared. We had a runner in the operations room, and with radios on, we were fit to deploy if needed on task as the QRF.
The morning passed uneventfully, with the multiple having lunch in the small cookhouse overlooking the river. Shortly after this the sniper multiple deployed on their patrol task. It was early afternoon and the sun and temperature were at their highest; the wind started to pick up as it usually did at that time of day, resulting in an uncomfortably warm breeze.
Then all of a sudden we could hear strange sounds being carried along on the wind and for a few moments we had to stop and listen and try to recognize what these were. What we were hearing were the sounds of rifle and automatic gunfire and the very distinctive sound of intermittent high-explosive grenades mingling with larger more powerful detonations coming from rocket-propelled grenades as they joined in the evolving early-afternoon chaos. The sounds of sporadic heavy dull explosions could be heard from the direction of Yellow Three and the surrounding areas, where we had the sniper platoon multiple on a routine mobile patrol in Snatch vehicles. The multiple commander and I stood to the multiple on hearing these sounds. Immediately the men sprang into action, grabbing their rifles, helmets and equipment and running towards the vehicles from the rest area.
The drivers reached the vehicles first and jumped into their seats, starting the Snatches up: instantly the engines fired into life, revving loudly as they spluttered and spat out dark smoke from the exhausts to the rear of the wagons. Moments later they were purring away, ready to roll out at any minute. Ian and I then ran up to the operations room, en route getting our mapping out ready for a back-brief from the duty watch keeper. Meanwhile over the radio in the background, information was being fed through from Dan, the multiple commander of the call sign in contact, to the operations room. The place was a hive of activity, with people in and out of the operations room and the guard commander on his radio running around the corridors trying to get information from the Sanger sentries. What was happening outside the walls of our location and beyond? What could they see and hear?
Dan's call sign was involved in a big contact and had received a casualty. The chaotic background noise of their surroundings was coming over in the transmission, accompanied by heavy gunfire. However, Dan managed to send his initial contact report calmly. Ian and I received our brief, short as it was, with the information available at the time from the duty watch keeper and anything further from the Sanger sentries at the front main gate.
We quickly came up with a plan, although by this point in time I was sweating like fury and kept thinking: 'This is it, this is for real.' As we briefed the remainder of the call sign, I was sweating from under my helmet onto the map on the front of the Snatch vehicle. All this time rifle fire and small explosions could be heard in the background and while briefing the boys I couldn't help feeling slightly apprehensive and nervous all at the same time.
By now all we could hear outside the walls of CIMIC House were the sounds of a ferocious fire-fight and the sudden thud of explosions. It was just sheer loudness, with people screaming and the noise of motor vehicles. From our location numerous plumes of dark billowing smoke could be seen rising into the clear blue sky in the direction that we must take.
Immediately we got into the vehicles. Taff, my driver, started revving the engine: every time he put his foot down on the accelerator the V8 engine roared with power. I got into the commander's seat, slamming the armoured door shut hard, getting my map out while resting my rifle across the top of my legs under control of my right hand so if we had to debus quickly it would be ready to use. All this time situation reports were coming in over my earpiece via my radio.
Matt was my 2IC: he was on top cover, my under-slung grenade-launcher (UGL). Benny, a big strong Fijian, was my light machine-gunner (LMG). The back doors slammed shut with their distinctive familiar sound, with both guys in the standing position ready on top cover. We started to move out; Ian as lead vehicle with mine following on at a distance.
Meanwhile the sound of gunfire could be heard over the radio and above the engines of the vehicles. We picked up speed, heading towards the front gate of CIMIC House. The whole compound was alive with movement, a few men fully geared up running towards the Sanger positions. The gate sentry pushed the gates open with some force and some help from an Iraqi policeman. We sped past the two of them and the front Sanger out into the street ahead and picking up speed, motoring past the Pink Palace and police guards on our left.
Ahead the view from inside our vehicles was a straight tarmac road with a central reservation dividing it in two. The reservation was made of concrete, a bollard effect, about 3 feet high and interspersed every few metres by a lamppost, road sign or advertisement of some kind. On our left were buildings two or three storeys high with small alleys and alcoves running along the sides. These were dark and filled with rubbish. Above the first level of shops and cafes were balconies covered with satellite dishes, assorted antennas and washing fluttering in the breeze. Telephone cables ran along the sides of the buildings directly above us, onto the lampposts and out across towards the River Tigris. The river was to our right, its banks grassed in parts and in others simply followed by old iron fencing mounted atop a low-lying wall which ran along in small disjointed sections. This was about waist height in places and continued all the way down towards our intended location of Yellow Three and the bridge.
Immediately within 300 metres of leaving CIMIC we came under heavy fire: you could hear the splatting of the rounds on the side and front of the vehicle. Inside Taff was sweating like a madman, wrestling with the steering wheel and swerving to dodge debris that had been placed in the road ahead. I found myself holding on to the dashboard with one hand and with the other trying to stop Taff's rifle from smacking him in the head as it had bounced out of the rifle rack where it was secured in the cab centre. Straight away in response Benny started firing the LMG in short bursts and every few rounds tracer could be seen flying down the street: it was incoming from all directions. Matt also started to fire his rifle. Empty cases and link were being ejected from both their firing: it started rolling down over the windscreen and falling down into the back of the vehicle. At this point Ian's vehicle broke left, smashing over a narrow rubbled gap in the central reservation, nearly taking off, severely swerving and leaning heavily to the right. For a split second I thought it was surely going to roll. Lee, his very experienced recce driver, somehow kept control of the vehicle, bouncing up and over the obstacle with the top cover guys being thrown about in the hatch like rag dolls.
Taff started shouting: 'Vehicles to our front, they have blocked the fucking road, the bastards.' Straight in front of us were two burning cars blocking the road ahead. We had no option but to smash through them. I shouted up to Matt and Benny: 'Hold on, fucking hold on, NOW!' We smashed our way straight through the vehicles. Now, directly in front of us we could see through the smoke and burning debris that had been deliberately put in our way. Dark figures could just momentarily be spotted running out in the distance to our front and sides, across the road and in and out of the side buildings. Movement was also seen up on the rooftops, with figures running along towards the bridge as well. All this time the sounds of rifle fire and the dull thud of explosions were growing louder as we approached our intended location.
We were now halfway down towards Yellow Three. Ian's vehicle was forward right on the opposite side of the road, smashing everything in its path as it moved at speed. I was over to the rear left on the other side of the road, trying to break the sound barrier in my efforts to keep up with Ian's vehicle. Meanwhile Benny and Matt were firing and shouting down target locations that they could see. The PRRs were simply no use: due to the amount of background noise and the buildings all around us, we couldn't hear each other on them.
Then just out of the corner of my eye, forward left from behind a low-lying wall, I saw a bright yellow flash and something moving towards us at speed and at waist height, moving erratically with a small smoke trail behind it. Within seconds it hit the front left-hand side of the vehicle, just above the main headlight area that was protected by a metal frame. It immediately flew up into the air with its smoke trail left hanging for a few short moments, disappeared out of our sight and exploded behind us. This was our first experience of an RPG warhead being fired directly at us. I shouted back and looked back, and could see that Matt and Benny were still standing up in position. I thought: 'Thank fuck, they're okay, everything is good, we're still mobile.' The sweat was stinging my eyes, my head pounding in my helmet, my heart beating so strongly it felt like it might crack my sternum open. Taff looked to be the same way. His face was red, and with sweat pouring down his forehead, he was shouting and cursing with every word that came out of his mouth while trying to drive and dodge everything in the road.
We were now coming under an even heavier rate of fire directed towards the two vehicles. It seemed to be a continuous wall of fire coming from all directions and from above us. Abruptly the front left-hand right side of the split windscreen cracked in three separate places: three rounds had just smacked into it and a cracking effect, veining, appeared in the panel of armoured glass right in front of me. On seeing this, Taff swerved the wagon across the road onto the same side as Ian. My top cover Benny and Matt were all the while firing, giving target indications to each other and trying to stay in a stable fire position in the top cover hatch. The same was happening with Ian's top cover. Both vehicles then came to a rapid tyre-screeching halt roughly 20 metres apart just under the bridge at the position known as Yellow Three, which was now above us. Nothing was moving above us on the bridge and we were well aware of the possible threat from where we had stopped to debus.
What we could see to our front was the road continuing straight ahead, now with multi-storeyed buildings and alleyways on either side. Slightly rear left of where we had stopped was the Al-Sadr building, literally within metres: a square edifice, light brown in colour, with two floors windowed top and bottom and a balcony facing towards the river. A low white wall surrounded the front of the building, facing the river: within this area it was grassed with a narrow path leading to the main iron-gated entrance.
The road running left past the building itself ran parallel to the road coming down off the bridge, again with buildings on either side and alleyways between them. We could see the burning Snatch vehicle on the road. Smoke was coming off it towards the sky; the smell of burning plastic and rubber filled our nostrils and was horrible to breathe. We could hear rifle fire everywhere and a large contact going on to our left as we approached the vehicle. We dry-fired and manoeuvred towards the burning vehicle. I remember seeing traces of blood on the ground and thinking 'Where the fuck are they?' as we approached the vehicle, 'Where the fuck have they gone?' It was empty, the vehicle was fucking empty. Shit. Just at that moment the ground started spitting bits of gravel up around us and rounds were splatting into the side of the Snatch vehicle, right where we stood. That now-familiar sound scares the shit out of you: the crack and thump of rounds whizzing just past or above you. Within micro-seconds we turned around, fired and manoeuvred back to the cover of the bridge. The remainder of the call sign just let rip with 5.56mm and UGL fire, providing cover for us.
We made it back: we were only about 30 metres away. I got in behind the cover of the wall coming down off the bridge and tried to get my breath back. The air was hot and filled with smoke and my helmet felt like it was trying to crush my head. I changed magazine, my hands shaking, and I remember looking around for a second. Everyone — Matt, Benny, Chris, Ian, Taff and Lee — was in his own little world of conflict. I popped back up facing down the street, rounds coming in from all directions and landing, impacting all around us. About 80 metres ahead on the corner of a building I saw a figure with an AK firing: I just aimed centre of mass of what I could see, and fired and fired until the figure went down and slumped to the ground. People were engaging targets all over at ground level; there was no time to think. Then suddenly Ray, who was a member of Ian's team, appeared next to me. We were both in the kneeling position at this point. Ray tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to the roof of the Al-Sadr building: there was an RPG man standing up and about to fire directly at us. We both instantly engaged the target with a rapid rate of fire: he fell from the roof to the ground in a heap. Ray's hot empty cases were hitting me in the side of the neck and bouncing off my helmet at the time and the unforgettable smell of cordite filled the air.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "A Sniper's Conflict"
Copyright © 2014 Monty B.
Excerpted by permission of Skyhorse Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Background and Foundation vii
Glossary of Terms xii
Chapter 1 Iraq: Al Amarah 1
Chapter 2 Afghanistan: Pre-tour Notes and Thoughts 20
Chapter 3 Nad-e Ali, Patrol Base Argyll, Part I 25
Chapter 4 Patrol Base Argyll, Part II 38
Chapter 5 Patrol Base Argyll, Part III 52
Chapter 6 Patrol Base Argyll, Part IV 76
Chapter 7 Endex Operation SOND CHARA 109
Chapter 8 Prelim Moves 115
Chapter 9 Nad-e Ali, Patrol Base Silab, Part I 127
Chapter 10 Patrol Base Silab, Part II 143
Chapter 11 Patrol Base Silab, Part III 165
Chapter 12 End of Operations: Last Ride to Camp Bastion 183
Epilogue: Stalking Shadows 190
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