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Sniper VS DM(R)

Posted 02-07-2010 at 10:44 AM by Warcat
Who am I?

I’m a former Marine Infantry Squad Leader who did this for real from 88-92 where I served with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines. Veteran of Desert Storm I was one of those geeks who would stay in the barracks on Friday nights reading manuals while others were out ‘having fun’.

I also have a website at that I created back in the 90’s with a lot of infantry tactics and techniques.

That said here goes.

It appears that some people don't know the difference between a sniper and someone equipped with a DMR (Designated Marksman Rifle), thinking that having a DMR makes one a 'sniper' or ‘sniper like’. Snipers are not really practical in Airsoft (because of range, 1-2 hour missions, etc,) but that is an argument for another thread.

The only thing the two have in common really is a focus on accurate fire. I think the comparison ends there.

Let’s focus on everyone’s favorite first, the Sniper.

SNIPER - not part of a regular squad or fireteam. The sniper's primary responsibility is INTELLIGENCE GATHERING. Not usually trigger pulling. Snipers are frequently deployed forward to scout and report on enemy activity. Sometimes they are deployed to guard or interdict areas. When the regular infantry unit begins the assault they then provide accurate directed fire on the enemy in support of the assault. Two men are sneakier than 4-13 men.

Snipers usually operate in two man teams. One with a scoped rifle and the other with a spotting scope, frequently called the Spotter. Both team members are trained snipers and are intimately familiar with the scoped rifle, with both of them switching roles between sniper and spotter. Frequently the spotter will carry a SAW or an M203 to give the team more firepower and capabilities.

The roles of a sniper team work as follows. The spotter carries a larger, more powerful spotting scope with a wider field of view. He (no she’s in sniper teams yet), is able to see more and is thus able to locate suitable targets for the sniper who’s scope has a more narrow field of view. The spotter also helps determines the range, windage, etc. The spotter also acts as a security element for the sniper. The spotter is awareness, the sniper is focus. In combat sniper teams spend a great deal of time being unseen and unheard. When they see the enemy they report it in to higher authorities and then direct artillery fire, CAS (close air support), Naval gunfire, etc.

The second a sniper fires their weapon they become the focus of the enemy and their expected life span drops. Always outnumbered and outgunned, snipers must rely on their brains, stealth and skills to survive. Patience is a hallmark of the sniper.

DESIGNATED MARKSMAN – is a part of a regular fireteam, in a regular squad. To understand what makes a DM different requires understanding how a rifle fireteam works.

Marine tactics work like this. An infantry fireteam is composed of up to 4 Marines. 1 - Team leader/Grenadier, 2 - Automatic Rifleman (SAW Gunner) 3 - AAR (Assistant Automatic Rifleman) - 4 Rifleman (DM).

On the field of battle the fireteam revolves around the SAW Gunner (NOT THE TEAM LEADER). The SAW is the core, heart and soul of a fireteam.

TEAM LEADER (Corporal or Senior Lance Corporal) The Team Leader uses his superior experience to direct and deploy the SAW gunner keeping an eye on the overall battle, thereby allowing him to place his M203 grenades where they will support and compliment the team.

SAW Gunner (Lance Corporal) is the heart and soul of the fireteam providing a high rate of fire that intimidates, suppresses and in an ambush massacres the enemy. SAW is something of a misnomer in that it stands for 'Squad Automatic Weapon', but Marines Rifle squads are supposed to have three of them, making them TAW - Team Automatic Weapon (you won’t ever hear that term).

The SAW gunner is deployed to the most advantageous position and the fireteam is focused on defending and providing security to the SAW Gunner. Machine guns excel at suppressing the enemy. The SAW is NOT Spray and Pray. If the SAW gunner is incapacitated for whatever reason SOMEBODY must pick up the SAW and carry on. The SAW is always ready for battle. If the SAW gunner has to relieve himself, dig a hole, etc, then the AAR takes over, if the AAR is not available, then the Rifleman, if not the Rifleman than the Team Leader.

AAR (Lance Corporal, PFC, Private) is the backup for the SAW gunner. His job is to take over if the SAW Gunner falls in battle. He also carries extra ammo, acts as a spotter for the SAW Gunner and in general is the SAW Gunner's batman/bodyguard/pack mule/backup. His job is also a DM but is never really called that. The AAR is the third senior member of a fireteam and my fulfill many of the roles of Rifleman.

Finally the RIFLEMAN (Lance Corporal, PFC, Private) is the Designated Marksman, responsible for accurate, well aimed fire. Usually equipped with the most accurate, long range rifle, the DM has a lot of roles but when the shooting starts the goal is accurate fire. While the SAW Gunner forces the enemy to put their head down the Rifleman can take the time to aim in and get sight alignment, sight picture on where the enemy is going to stick up his head. The Rifleman does not have the rate of fire, or ammo capacity the SAW gunner does so he must make his rounds count.

The Rifleman has many other roles in the fireteam/squad. From point man, to security element, to pack mule, to breacher, to slave labor. Riflemen are the lowest on the totem pole and tend to be most ‘expendable’, the theory is they are not burdened with heavier weapons are thus faster, more agile and less winded than others. They also require a great amount of skill, training and knowledge.

Even though the Rifleman (DM) is one of the lowest positions in a Marine Rifle Company TO&E (Table of Organization & Equipment) it is crucial. It is not rare to have a senior marine in that position, making the most junior man the SAW gunner (who gets a lot of close supervision from the Team Leader anyways). Senior Marines don’t like carrying heavy weapons and being the primary target, not to mention they tend to be more experienced and thus skilled in the infantry arts.
Tags: sniper dmr
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  1. Old
    MeticulousAssasin's Avatar
    This a very good post, thanks for clearing up any confusion. Despite not being effective, some still think sniping can be fun, it's just extremely expensive (my next build is looking at around $500 just to get started with necessities). Although, I've also played DM with an m14 and it is also fun and often needed in a squad. I can't remember how many times I've played and been pinned down by someone who was just 50 feet beyond my standard m4 range.
    Posted 02-07-2010 at 08:56 PM by MeticulousAssasin MeticulousAssasin is offline
  2. Old
    blacksheep_p's Avatar
    This is very interesting to hear how the Marines do it. In the Army, everyone is a rifleman. Then people are assigned roles; such as automatic rifleman ( SAW gunner ), grenadier, and team/ squad lead, and DM depending on what they are good at or what is needed. DM is one of those positions that are set aside. Some units don't have any, some have 1 or 4 per platoon, it all comes down to that unit's SOP ( Standard Operation Procedure ) and that unit's mission statement.

    Army fire teams are 4-5 people, and squads are 8-10 people. The reason that there is variance is that unit SOP will always override FM mandates. So that means that you could have in one squad up to two SAW's and two grenadiers, or the squad to be split into a "heavy" and "light" squad. In which the "light" squad would be the movers and flankers and the "heavies" would be the fire base used for suppressing positions...

    There is also no "most important" role in the fire team. Everyone is trained to the level of the next two levels above them. So that means that an E-5 ( sergeant ) or E-4 ( senior specialist or corporal ) who is usually a fire team leader has to KNOW ( not just understand ) the roles and responsibilities of the squad leader ( E-6 Staff Sergeant ) and Platoon Sergeant ( E-7 Sergeant First Class ). That includes all reports to higher.

    This and the OP are a lot of info to chomp on for all of those really hardcore ones out there! It is cool to see how it all compares.

    By the way, thanks for your side of the "sniper vs. DM" debate. It is nice to know that there are other people out there who have this stuff down!
    Posted 02-07-2010 at 11:42 PM by blacksheep_p blacksheep_p is offline
    Updated 02-07-2010 at 11:44 PM by blacksheep_p
  3. Old
    Warcat's Avatar
    The Marines operate (when possible) in three fireteam squads, making them larger than most other military squads. I understand the Brits have a 10 man squad, one 4 man team (based around a SAW) and then a maneuver element of 6 men. Everyone does it different. I believe the army is also different between mech, air assault, ranger and regular foot infantry. A lot is based on how many men are available for a squad. In the Marines I don't think we were ever full strength, even in Desert Storm.
    Posted 02-08-2010 at 05:40 AM by Warcat Warcat is offline
  4. Old
    Warcat's Avatar
    and on a side note that is just basic fireteam tactics. Not squad, or squad with attachments, I won't even go into platoon tactics.
    Posted 02-08-2010 at 05:41 AM by Warcat Warcat is offline
  5. Old
    blacksheep_p's Avatar
    Platoon tactics are a whole other can of worms indeed, there is so much stuff going on there, it would make people's heads spin!

    Yeah, the example I gave was the basic infantry style squad sans any heavy weapons like m2's or mk.19's. After that the unit type and their SOP takes over and modifies the equation to suit their needs. That makes a lot of units unique according to their job type and what their unit practices for its SOP. So you are right, that could make squads wildly different from transportation, to infantry, to mech infantry, to armor. I mean talk about different from the equation, armor squads are made up of two Abrams with 4 men crewing them, no need for SAW's or 203's there!
    Posted 02-08-2010 at 12:27 PM by blacksheep_p blacksheep_p is offline
  6. Old
    sticks's Avatar
    I enjoyed it, however may I correct you on the subject of female snipers. USAF Security Forces allows female airmen to apply/qualify at Security Forces sniper school. But this is the only case of female snipers in the US military to my knowledge.

    Great read, I would love to hear you guys talk about platoon tactics sometime. Maybe a rainy(or snowy) day? Please?

    Posted 02-08-2010 at 01:11 PM by sticks sticks is offline
  7. Old
    Warcat's Avatar
    I stand corrected. I'm sure some police units allow women snipers as well.
    Posted 02-08-2010 at 05:40 PM by Warcat Warcat is offline
    Updated 02-08-2010 at 07:12 PM by Warcat
  8. Old
    UrbanMarine's Avatar
    Jennifer Donaldson was the first female to finish sniper school back in 2001 at the age of 19.
    Posted 02-08-2010 at 10:24 PM by UrbanMarine UrbanMarine is offline
    Updated 02-08-2010 at 10:27 PM by UrbanMarine
  9. Old
    Warcat's Avatar
    Okay, thank you Urban Marine. Let's stay on topic. This is a Combat Arms sniper, not Airforce counter sniper. A 15 day course doesn't qualify as a real sniper school and the snipers I'm referring to are the snake eating, 'lets go behind enemy lines and shoot them in the balls' kind of gung ho, dedicated, professional killer who hunts the enemy on their turf.
    Posted 02-09-2010 at 05:59 AM by Warcat Warcat is offline
  10. Old
    UrbanMarine's Avatar
    QFT. Back to the Waldrons and Hathcocks

    Warcat: Have you read up on the use of 5 man squads vs. the traditional 2 man team in urban environments? It been very effective in lowering causalities/wounded as well as greatly improving security.

    Both Iraq and Afghanistan has really changed the SOP.
    Posted 02-09-2010 at 09:56 AM by UrbanMarine UrbanMarine is offline
    Updated 02-09-2010 at 10:04 AM by UrbanMarine
  11. Old
    Warcat's Avatar
    UrbanMarine: I've heard about it but not sure on the details. I'm guessing you have a Sniper, spotter and then security detachment. All are sniper trained so they rotate through the sniper role which means the 'sniper on duty' is more rested and alert. With an active security team to keep him safe it means he can focus more on his objective. Should work great in an urban environment, but in a non-urban environment you get back to 2 men are still sneaker than 5.

    Do you have more info?
    Posted 02-09-2010 at 10:15 AM by Warcat Warcat is offline
  12. Old
    UrbanMarine's Avatar
    Modern Sniper: Marines on the Military Channel had a show about it. It was also mentioned in Special Weapons for Military and Police when they previewed the updated M40A5.

    I think there is a rerun tonight at 10pm if you wanna check it out.
    Posted 02-09-2010 at 10:37 AM by UrbanMarine UrbanMarine is offline
  13. Old
    Krylon's Avatar
    I saw that show. They said that five man teams were much more effective and lowered casualty rates.
    Posted 02-09-2010 at 12:42 PM by Krylon Krylon is offline
  14. Old
    john's Avatar
    Good job!!
    Posted 02-09-2010 at 05:10 PM by john john is offline

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