Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bostodelphia 21 Gun Salute to the Firearms of 2007 #7: Remmington M24 Sniper Weapon System

The Remmington M24 Sniper Weapon System (SWS) is the standard issue rifle for snipers in the U.S. Army. Both Remmington and official Army jargon refer to this rifle as a "system" as opposed to simply a "rifle" because of the essential use of a scope and other accessories beyond the basic working of the rifle proper in the sniper's mission. According to Remmington's specifications, the M24 is 43" in length, has a combat weight of 6.5 kg with an integral 5 round magazine, capable of firing either 7.62 Nato or Winchester 300 Magnum ammunition. It has an effective range of 800 meters with its day scope, and over 300 meters with its night scope.

Some U.S. Army snipers in Iraq issued the M24 have come under media and military justice fire for tactics allegedly given them by the army's Asymmetric Warfare Group. Apparently, the AWG advised sniper teams to plant explosives, wire, rifles, and other materials useful to insurgents as "bait" to draw insurgents into a sniper's sites. Because this tactic is part of larger classified program of instruction the AWG provides a broad range of Army units, the existence of this program leaves the civilian observer wanting for clarification. For example, it's unclear why active, organized, and presumably covertly operating insurgents would risk picking up materials outside of their particular faction's supply chain. It's also unclear how a sniper is to determine whether someone in contact with the bait materials is indeed an insurgent or other "bad guy" as opposed to someone troubled with or made curious by such materials in his or her neighborhood or path. What is clear is that this tactic, while controversial, is apparently legitimate in the military and its oversight's eyes, as the snipers in the referenced court martial covered by the Timeswere tried not for employing these tactics, but adapting them to place "drop weapons" on the corpses of Iraqis to justify their shootings.

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