The US Marine Corps is looking to make “Scout Sniper” a primary MOS to alleviate the shortages of skilled marksmen in Marine units.
Home of one of the most intensive sniper training programs, the USMC Scout Sniper training school’s attrition rates can not currently meet the demand for snipers within Marine infantry units, leading to a shortage of true marksmen among line units.
In light of the shortages, the USMC has confirmed that Commandant General Robert Neller is considering a major change that would make Scout Sniper a primary MOS, which would allow units to meet increasing demands for highly-skilled shooters.
“The Marine Corps is currently assessing the best way to train and sustain its Scout Snipers,” Marine spokesperson 1st Lt. Danielle Phillips told WATM, declining to directly comment on whether or not the Commandant would sign off on a Scout Sniper PMOS. “It’s important we are thorough in our review to determine the best way the Corps can improve this vital capability.”
One infantry officer said that the average sniper platoon has around four trained snipers, far short of the authorized goal of 20 per platoon.
“A lot of kids come to the sniper school not prepared or not fully qualified, so they fail out,” the infantry officer -who spoke on condition of anonymity- said. “So we’re just not able to maintain the number of snipers we need in a battalion.”
With that in mind, the proposal to make the 0317 Scout Sniper MOS a PMOS was born.
“There’s a struggle to find Marines who have the time to train up and get to a ‘school level’ of success,” a senior Marine sniper who is familiar with the proposal said. “Right now it’s almost impossible.”
Currently, many selected for Scout Sniper have already had at least one deployment and are nearing the tail end of the service, thus causing retention concerns for leadership.
“There’s no way to make sure they stay in the sniper community,” the senior sniper said.
As the Marine Corps has evolved from experience gained in the War on Terror, the role of the scout sniper has expanded, leading many leaders to request more sniper-specific Marines in their unit numbers.
However, some feel that the need for more snipers will degrade the quality of the snipers themselves.
“The old timers are pointing a bony finger at us and saying the new plan waters down sniper training,” the senior sniper said. “That’s an emotional response to how it used to be.”
For Marine Corps Scout Snipers, only time will tell.
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