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SRT perfects marksman-observer training

17 Oct 2013 | Lance Cpl. Donald Peterson

CAMP FOSTER, Japan - With time ticking and a hostage situation growing more dangerous by the second, a special reaction team marksman-observer has moments to set up for a well-aimed shot and await the order to neutralize the threat, leaving the hostage unharmed.

SRT Marines executed marksman-observer training Oct. 10 at Range 22 in the Central Training Area.

The Marines are with the Provost Marshal’s Office, Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, Marine Corps Installations Pacific.

The monthly training for the SRT marksman-observers ensures the Marines are properly qualified and maintain the high-level of readiness required of them.

“SRT marksman-observers are the top shooters of SRT and play a similar role as a sniper would for a SWAT team,” said Cpl. Corbin L. Renner, a marksman-observer with SRT. “We do qualification shootings every month, which consist of shooting five rounds into a 2-inch circle from 100 meters away.”

As well as shooting to maintain their qualification, the Marines trained using several other shooting drills to sharpen the skills needed in high-threat situations.

“We (trained in) hostage-scenario drills by having a target being partially covered by the other, and we have to neutralize the hostage-taker without hitting the hostage,” said Staff Sgt. Jordan G. Hardy, the SRT platoon commander. “As well as a timed exertion drill, which is when we sprint from a certain distance to our weapon system, load the weapon, and take four shots.” 

The exertion drills add stress, increase heart rate, and create heavier breathing during the drills; all factors that affect marksmanship skills, according to Hardy.

“We have to be able to execute a well-aimed shot at any point in time and know that no matter how stressed or exhausted we may be, we can neutralize a hostile target,” said Hardy.

The SRT Marines used the M24 sniper weapon system during the course of fire, which fires 7.62 mm rounds.

“It’s not the usual weapon system we use, but it’s good training to be able to use other weapon systems like this because we never know what weapon will be at our disposal when an incident occurs,” said Cpl. Troy A. Biggs, a marksman-observer with SRT. 

By having the marksman-observers train regularly, the SRT has more options to save lives and complete the mission during high-threat situations. 

“We provide the edge to be able to neutralize a target from a distance without the target even knowing we are there,” said Biggs. “For this reason, it is important to ensure that we are fully capable of doing our job, because a moment of hesitation, or a bad shot, could be the (difference between) life and death for a hostage or someone else on the team.”

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