I don’t want to write a long blog today, I am busy with Code Name Jen, the new GMJ Book, number 32 in the Series and it is Sunday afternoon. We have a rather nice tradition in South Africa on Sunday afternoons with our wife which is cruelly denied to me, being a widower but anyway, I got a letter from a reader this morning. He is respectfully upset with my comments in Code Name Butterfly, the counter sniper book. What I said was the following:
“… There are other frightening numbers which is mentioned not to anger you if American, but to explain what is wrong with your system. It was found that the average (but trained) US Army infantryman will hit a man-sized target 10 percent of the time at 328 yards. You cannot tell me that is good enough, God knows, that is bad shooting, it means they miss 90% of the time and now the dreadful ammunition expenditure starts to make sense, it is not about fire suppression but simply low training standards. Then, the graduates of the US Army Sniper School must achieve a 90% first-round hit at 656 yards, using the M24 Sniper Weapon System, a proper sniper rifle firing either the 7.62 NATO or .338 Lapua round. I am sorry, but that is Mickey Mouse. Not one such shooter will graduate under our standards. I will not trust that kind of inaccurate shooting where hostages are involved and I cannot say it is impressive even by Third World standards, I expect that type of hits at 1,000 yards or you are history. It is not for every shooter to become a sniper, really not. Let us not lower standards to badge more snipers, he will die when up against a good one and that will be the fault of the officer signing such low standards off, your bluff will be called one day. …”
He saw the above as an attack on American soldiers in general which it is not. In Vietnam, at one stage, research what I say, it took 250,000 bullets to kill one terrorist. You will not tell me that is good enough and I cannot keep quiet and let low standards go, that is the road to disaster. Then he got upset with my views on US based SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics, some say Special Weapons and Assault Team), again, let me quote from the book and many others:
“… Then you get police snipers, actually a lot more experienced than the military version unless a war is ongoing, they don’t shoot at targets that do not shoot back all the time. Incredibly, police snipers are in general seen as something of a lesser shooter by the public, probably because, truth to be told, in the US, they are. Although they probably shoot more people than army snipers (during normal times), they also shoot at much shorter distances, less than 100 yards average according to statistics. That is so close that you can just as well use a sling shot. I said it before in the GMJ Books, and will say so again, no Sheriff Department SWAT member will ever make Special Forces Selection unless they already did, before becoming policemen. We don’t rate them or the FBI Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) highly and have many reasons why we say so. Practically speaking, any Police SWAT Unit, waiting three hours outside a gay club with a terrorist trapped inside with innocents, is worthy of only contempt in my eyes and many like me. Not good enough, ever. You have to go in and end the slaughter, simple, there is no waiting for the first responders either, it is pathetic policing, pathetic command & control and no use to say but you ended it later on, I am not impressed and never will be. Accordingly, the perception that military snipers are better than police ones may be true in the US and perhaps the UK - certainly we rate the Royal Marine sniper course as the best in the world, above anything else and the one we base our own on. However, be assured, down here where I am and where the GMJ Books play off, police snipers are every bit as good if not better than a military trained one. The Police Unit is seen as true Special Forces, able to do all the above scenarios and hostage situations. They can shoot at any distance what an army sniper can shoot. What is very interesting to explain the difference - Angelique may have mentioned it in Code Name Wrangler, a book on hostage rescues, is that Lee Harvey Oswald took a pot shot at a former US Army major general with the very same rifle later used in the assassination he is known for. He missed, a former US Marine sharpshooter, because he did not know that aiming with a telescope through a glass window not close to you, will distort your aim. This is common knowledge to police and intelligence sourced snipers but not necessarily military ones. We are trained to shoot the glass out first and work in more than one sniper team surrounding the target. It is really much easier, ask me, I did both, to shoot a fellow during a warzone situation without any fear of injuring hostages or him able to shoot back accurately at that distance with what he has available, than during a full blown urban hostage crisis where every hostage taker must die at the same time or catastrophe will follow. Therefore, I say again to you, trust me, police snipers are better trained than military ones and much more experienced down here and certainly also in places like Russia where you find intelligence units doing the hostage rescuing at times. Do not relate what you know on US SWAT teams onto the rest of the world, you will look foolish in our eyes and argue with those that will not be convinced, not in this sphere. …”
I am reminded of something else I wrote in many GMJ Books:
“… There is no such thing as “surviving” a good sniper as one ancient female liberal apparently did in Bosnia in the 1990s. You know she misspoke a bit (we call it plain old lying in this country, we are direct people) when she said she was under sniper fire. …”
Of course, that was one Hilarious Clinton, as we call her in my books. I am not here to write politically correct books. I call a spade a spade as I see it, and I back my statements with facts and figures. The GMJ Books are not your normal spy stories, some are used as training material. I stay true to myself, and inform you of failures where needs be, not to criticize but as a wakeup call. Just this morning I got a report, you are always welcome to write to me, that Bill Clinton, when he was President and he was a good one, mostly, lost his nuclear codes and could not produce it when put through a training simulation. In fact, he did not even know when he lost them, all the codes had to be redone and America was left open for attack during that time – that is the type of thing I like to write about. Once you know you have a problem, you can deal with it. Let us not be ostriches, the above figures on snipers are not made up, and they are shockingly bad, rather improve standards. There are a lot of other stuff inside that book also. GMJ
George M James is a pseudo name for the author and used for security reasons. He is an expert on counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations in sub Saharan Africa, a military and war historian and published author of 43 books. His late wife was an American Patriot that served with the U.S. Navy. His books are widely read among military veterans of many nations.