News story

UK riflemen train Afghan army snipers

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Afghan soldiers have been honing their sniping skills under the expert tuition of marksmen from 4th Battalion The Rifles (4 RIFLES).

A selection of crack-shot Afghan soldiers, known as warriors, from 3/215 Brigade of the Afghan National Army (ANA) have been training on the live firing ranges at Camp Bastion as the Afghan National Security Forces take the lead for the security of their fellow Afghans.

The live fire exercise marked the culmination of an intensive sniper course which involved 4 RIFLES personnel teaching the Afghans a host of advanced skills such as concealment, stalking and counter-sniping.

Afghan soldiers on the firing range
Afghan soldiers on the firing range [Picture: Crown copyright]

4 RIFLES are currently deployed to Afghanistan as the Brigade Advisory Group; they arrived in April for a 6-month tour of duty in Helmand province. The Wiltshire-based unit’s role is to train and advise the ANA as they develop further capabilities and confidence to protect communities from the threat of insurgents.

Serjeant Moses Navunisaravi, 4 RIFLES, said:

Most of the warriors had not seen this type of weapon before but they showed a real desire to learn and by the end of the training were highly competent.

We are concentrating on ‘train the trainer’ programmes. Initially there were no ANA instructors available for this course so we highlighted 3 soldiers who showed confidence with the weapon and got them to teach the lessons back to the students.

At the end of the course, all 12 soldiers were qualified marksmen.

An Afghan soldier on the intensive sniper course
An Afghan soldier on the intensive sniper course [Picture: Crown copyright]

Corporal Steve Martin, 4 RIFLES, said:

The Afghan warriors really wanted to learn the skills of a sniper and were soon shooting some tight groupings. I was impressed by how quickly they picked it up and these skills stack the odds even further against the insurgents on the battlefield.

Read more about the government’s policy to establish stability in Afghanistan

The warriors selected as snipers are picked by their kandak (battalion) commanders because of their skill and ability on the battlefield. The live firing involved shooting at numerous targets from different ranges up to 400 metres, although the snipers can effectively engage the enemy at distances far greater than this.

An Afghan soldier on the intensive sniper course
An Afghan soldier on the intensive sniper course [Picture: Crown copyright]

Lieutenant Colonel Tom Bewick, Commanding Officer of 4 RIFLES, said:

The Rifles have a strong heritage in sharpshooting, and supporting the ANA to run their own training is exactly why we are here.

This training adds an important capability to 3/215 Brigade which will improve their confidence even further.

Herrick 18 is the fourth time a Rifles battalion has deployed to Helmand province as advisors to the ANA, a role at the heart of enabling the Afghans to lead their own security.