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Predator and prey: Scout Sniper students stalk targets

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Predator and prey: Pre-Scout Sniper students stalk targets
Cpl. Brighten Bell, a student undergoing the 2nd Marine Division Combat Skills Center Pre-Scout Sniper Course, acquires a target during a stalking exercise at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 22, 2016. The exercise required students to traverse approximately 1000 meters of high grass and fire on a target, all without being detected. (U.S. Marine Corps photo illustration by Cpl. Paul S. Martinez/Released)

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. – The 2nd Marine Division Combat Skills Center held its final week of instruction for aspiring Marine scout snipers as part of the Pre-Scout Sniper Course at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Jan. 22.

The course concluded its three-week training period by bringing Marines to the Greater Sandy Run training area. Following day and night land navigation, Marines were required to “stalk,” or pursue a target while remaining undetected.

“The Marines are using all the knowledge they have gained to execute a stalk,” said Sgt. Bradley S. Brouwer, the chief instructor of the course. “The intent is to have them move, identify and shoot without being detected.”

Marines traversed between 800 and 1,000 meters as stealthily as possible, relying on the camouflage of their ghillie suits, their grassy environment and careful movement to keep as low of a profile as possible. Instructors observed the area through scout sniper observation telescopes, keeping an eye open for error that would give a Marine’s position away to the enemy.

“There is no room for error in a scout sniper platoon,” said Cpl. Aaron Straight, a student in the course. “Something as simple as leaving behind a piece of tape is a matter of life or death. It can be challenging to stay mentally engaged and avoid a serious slip-up.”

Brouwer hopes the skills developed over the past three weeks will help Marines be successful in the school house.

“We stood this course up to give these Marines a buffer-course before they tackle the real thing, and we want to see a higher graduation rate at the school house and the production of skilled scout snipers,” Brouwer said.

Straight considers his completion of the course a confidence-booster for the challenges he will face in one of the Corps’ most elite schools.

“We did so much shooting and land navigation that helped me improve all around,” Straight said. “The instructors here are some of the most knowledgeable scout snipers in the Marine Corps and it was great to work under them.”

Marines are scheduled to begin the Basic Scout Sniper Course Jan. 25.

Story by Cpl. Paul S. Martinez

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