The ultimate value of the sniper in any generation of warfare is to make the enemy feel as uncomfortable as possible where they usually feel comfortable. Consider this short story about prominent Civil War General John Sedgewick:
Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick was one of the most experienced and competent officers in the Army of the Potomac. He was also greatly respected and beloved by his men. Born in 1813, he graduated from West Point in 1837, later serving in the Seminole War, the Mexican War, and at various posts in the West. He became a brigadier general at the beginning of the Civil War and led a division at Antietam, where he was seriously wounded. Returning to duty in 1863, Sedgwick was placed in command of the Sixth Corps, which he led at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. By the Overland Campaign, he was the army’s highest-ranking officer after only Meade.
The Sixth Corps arrived at Spotsylvania on the afternoon of May 8 after a severe march. After dark, it took its place in the center of the Union line, its right flank resting on the Brock Road. Warren’s Fifth Corps was on Sedgwick’s right, and Hancock’s Second Corps would eventually extend the line to the left. Sedgwick established his headquarters 100 feet or so from this spot. Two guns of Battery H, 1st New York Artillery, stood where two branches of the Brock Road met.
Confederate sharpshooters had been peppering the area all morning on May 9, wounding, among others, General William Morris. Staff officers cautioned Sedgwick not to approach the road, but he forgot their warnings a few minutes later when he walked over here to untangle a snarl in his line. When his men warned him to take cover, Sedgwick responded by joking, “They couldn’t hit an elephant at that distance.” Just then, a sharpshooter’s bullet crashed into his skull, right below his left eye, killing him instantly. When Grant heard the news, he could hardly believe it. “Is he really dead?” he asked, later remarking that Sedgwick’s death was “greater than the loss of a whole division of troops.”
That is a pretty cool story, and it highlights the advantage a sharpshooter has. Where the sniper has the advantage is that no matter what experience level he is, he can operate independently, without the bureaucracies of any state backed militaries, while making an impact on the world stage with hidden fires from a concealed position. Does the hunter need to be supplied by anyone but himself? No, he does not. He still kills the deer to feed his family. That is 4GW, independent cells down to the individual, operating on their own initiative in their own AO. (We will have an AO breakdown post soon) Basically, it makes the sniper the queen of battle in 4GW. This makes him an extremely deadly adversary in any generation of warfare.
The US Army Ranger motto is Sua Sponte (Of their own accord) and it certainly fits the unit and school. In law, it also means, “of one’s own accord; voluntarily”. These sayings fit all operations in 4GW, especially for the sniper. The Tactical Hermit describes it best in part three of his short story, The Partisan Ledger. SGM R.C. Jackson ended up in the right place at the right time on his own accord. Because of that, he sparked something much bigger than himself and saved a few lives in the process. Read the while thing, it is a great series on 4GW. The lesson: it is more about the will to fight than the individual ability to fight. The future of warfare is the sniper.
One truth of war that only soldiers know is that when you operate with a well-trained squad/platoon you grow comfortable even in the most dangerous environments. Weapons everywhere, eyes scanning everywhere, Apaches overhead, overwatch positions set, sitting in the middle of an up armored whale of a vehicle; it all lulls you into a false sense of security over time. And that is the best of soldiers who want to be in the fight. Of course, this opens you up for an attack and once you get attacked, the inexperienced overreact.