Up & Coming Weekly

March 29, 2022

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 9 of 28

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM MARCH 30 - APRIL 5, 2022 UCW 9 Last week, Fort Bragg ranges were busy playing host to an elite group of local, national and international spe- cial operators. Annually, Fort Bragg sets the stage for U.S. Special Opera- tions Command Sniper Competition (USASOC). e event is created with great attention to detail and secrecy by the Special Forces Sniper School Instructors (SFSC) from the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. Each competition and each event are differ- ent, keeping highly trained competi- tors on their toes. is the 13th time the competition has been held. In the wake of COVID, the event has had to shift and adapt. Last year, fewer teams competed, and the French team was the only interna- tional partner able to attend. During the 2020 competition, the USASOC Sniper Competition was held entirely in-house, with soldiers already at Fort Bragg representing the different Special Forces Groups and special operations elements. 21 teams were in attendance to compete; six of the teams were international, including teams from Ireland, France, Italy, Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland, Non-descript white, gray and silver government issue vans ferried soldiers and their equipment between events on precise timelines. Six minutes to here, eight minutes there. Upon arrival at any given range, competi- tion organizers provided each team with relevant details of the challenge before them. e teams collected the appropriate weaponry and scopes, bundled out of their vans and were given one minute to ask the SFSC instructor in charge questions. On Tuesday, March 22, a white van rolled up to Range 61 with a two-per- son team from the U.S. Marine Corps 3rd Raider Unit. One team member climbed to the first floor of a six-floor structure facing a long-range, and the other situated himself in the back of a Humvee next to the building. Each in the prone position. Spotters stood at scopes to check their accuracy and the instructor in charge handed the operator on the first-floor platform a tile with one of eight possible images. e team member in the Humvee, who played spotter for this event, was given a key with all eight images and each image corresponding to a spe- cific target shape and color. e soldier in the Humvee has a carbine, the other a long gun or sniper rifle. "… background, there are several shapes," called the soldier on the plat- form. "On the background is a large five-pointed star." "Yup," the soldier in the Humvee confirmed. "Inside of that is a large circle, inside of the circle is a square inside of the square is hexagon… an octagon, inside of the square is an octagon, and then inside the octagon is an orange circle with a blue border," the soldier on the platform said. "Alright, it's going to be a green piece of steel. It's literally just a verti- cal … a green two-by-four," the soldier in the Humvee said. "Got it." e soldier on the platform lines up the shot, accounts for the distance and wind and pulls the trigger. "Miss," calls the spotter. And another tile is given to the sol- dier on the platform. is continues until the team's time has run out. e Marine Raiders praised the challenge, loaded up and headed to their next event. Each event is designed to test the team's marksmanship and ability to communicate and work as a team. On Range 62, the next event tested the teams on their ability to shoot at "known distances." "A big problem with shooting is wind," explained SFSC Instructor Rick Cuza. He explained that the targets were placed 500 to 800 meters out. Each bank of targets had been small, me- dium and large targets of about the same height but not the same width. e targets range in the number of points they are worth; more for smaller targets less for the larger ones. "ey have to decide based on the distance and what they see the condi- tions which target they are going to shoot," Cuza said. At another event, soldiers from the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) completed an event designed to test their ability to discriminate between their targets, deciding which targets are threats and which are not. Orga- nizers staged this event in an urban setting with targets placed between 385 meters and 650 meters. e team was positioned in a room on an upper floor of a building shooting out of a window. e teams would need to use their scopes to determine if objects near their targets were weapons, indi- cating they were a threat. Command Sgt. Maj. Chuy Almonte, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Special Warfare Group believes the event does not simply measure marksmanship; the events measure a soldier's ability to perform under stress. "It's really about to be able to prob- lem-solve … managing your stress," Almonte said. Almonte says that the competition is of value beyond measuring skills; that it lays a foundation of communi- cation and collaboration and facili- tates the sharing of knowledge with international partners. is is important from a perspec- tive of personal experience, Almonte explained. While deployed in Afghanistan, Almonte worked on a firebase in a "very kinetic area during a very kinetic time." ey needed help and were supported by a group of Czech Repub- lic special forces. ey built a strong relationship. "We brought a lot of white space to that region … we went from a 500-me- ter freedom of movement to an almost 10 kilometers freedom of movement," Almonte said. "Because of that part- nership with the Czech soldiers." Further down the line, while work- ing on a different problem set based in Africa, that relationship was again a benefit. "Focused in a totally different content and area of the world, but because of our previous relationship together, we were basically able to pick up where we left off," Almonte said. e events culminated in a banquet Friday, March 26, where the event's winners were recognized. A USASOC team for Fort Bragg took first place, France second, and 20th Special Forc- es Group (Airborne) third. Ireland was disqualified during the competition for a negligent discharge. U.S. Special Operations Command hosts Sniper Competition, Fort Bragg team takes first by EMILY SUSSMAN EMILY SUSSMAN, Editor. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcom- ingweekly.com. 910-484-6200. A competitor in the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) International Sniper Competition, ejects a rifle cartridge while shooting long-distance targets at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, March 22, 2022. Twenty-one teams competed in the 13th annual USASOC Internation- al Sniper Competition where instructors from the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School designed a series of events that challenged the two-person teams' ability to work together, firing range, speed and accuracy in varied types of environments. (Photo by Ken Kassens, U.S. Army.) NEWS A competitor in the United States Army Special Operations Com- mand (USASOC) International Sniper Competition, adjusts a rifle scope while searching for long-dis- tance targets at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, March 21, 2022. (Photo by Ken Kassens, U.S. Army.)

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