In 1979 the Kenyan Army discontinued their Sniper training, allowing the advantages the Sniper offers to fall from their order of Battle. The increasingly volatile world combined with Kenyas own experiences during Peacekeeping operations in the Balkans, Sierra Leone, and Eritrea helped re-kindle their interest in the return of this lost tribe. I was fortunate enough to spend five weeks laying the foundations for the future of Sniper training in the Kenyan Army.
From October to November, 2001, I wrote and conducted two courses for the benefit of the Kenyan School of Infantry in Isiolio, central Kenya. The course was split into two phases. Phase one was a three-week basic course attended by thirty students selected from throughout the Kenyan Army. Phase two was a two-week period concentrating on the teaching of potential Instructors in order for the School of Infantry to build on the lessons taught during the initial five weeks.
Thirty students was a tall order. I was the only instructor, but fortunately had five Pte soldiers from my own Sniper Section to help me. The Kenyan soldier was mildly surprising, fit, keen, enthusiastic, and good humoured. Combine these factors with a good grasp of the English language, experience, and the desire to learn, and you can see I was halfway to a good course.
During the first three weeks I concentrated on the basic skills: concealment, observation, stalking, judging distance, and shooting. The lack of maps (only four available) and the non-existence of aerial photographs meant navigation was only covered briefly.
Other resources we take for granted were also unavailable, like binoculars (five amongst thirty). We also had to make due with only twenty Sniper rifles and no spotting scopes. Therefore, I chose to teach the Kenyans in the manner in which they would have to teach after my departure: no visual aids, a chalkboard, and plenty of hands-on experience.
|The Kenyan Army is equipped with the H & K SG1, .308/7.62mm fitted with a 1.5 6 x Carl Zeiss telescopic sight. It as been in service since before the discontinuation of Sniper training in 1979|
The sight is a 1.5 x 6 x variable with adjustments from 100 600m for elevation. Below the range settings (which are written in white) there are a series of yellow figures that show the range at which the trajectory of the bullet intercepts the line of sight, 75 45 30 20 15 10 meters ( 100m through 600m)
The measurements indicated in the sight picture are given in graduations.
One graduation = 1/1000 of the range being observed.
i.e. 1.5 = 150mm @ 100m,
5 = 500mm @ 100
The deflection drum is graduated in clicks, each click giving slightly under 1 MOA
i.e. 25mm @ 100m
Therefore the basic wind table for the L96 6x sight was taught, as it is easy to understand and close enough to facilitate a starting point.
|Moderate||0||0||1||1 or 2||2||2 or 3||3 or 4||Fresh||0||1||2||3||4||5||7|
|Weight minus bipod & Mag (with scope) :||12.1lbs|
|Trigger Pull, with set trigger :||adjustable from 2lbs 3.3lbs|
|Trigger Pull, without set trigger :||approx 5.7lbs|
|Iron Sights :||Rotary sight, open V sight from 200m 400m|
The initial problem with the students' shooting ability was their misconceptions about the weapon's set trigger. They were convinced this reduced the amount of felt recoil on the weapon system and were not too eager to try firing without it. The set trigger turned the trigger into a hair trigger, meaning students had problems judging shot release and controlling the follow through. Once shown the correct use of the double pressure trigger all of the students' group sizes reduced drastically.
The second limitation was the sight only being graduated to 600m, however through teaching, practice, and the understanding of where to aim at least a third of the course managed to hit a head sized target at 950m during a field firing practice at unknown distances.
Again due to resources and heat, only Ghillie headdress was constructed and the emphasis was placed on the use of natural camouflage. The Kenyans were good bushmen whose strength lay in their observational skills and ability to judge distance. Their laid-back manner took away a little of their tactical awareness whilst patrolling, but once at the target area they soon came into their own. Given a little more time they should develop into sound Sniper operatives.
The best ten students from the initial phase were selected to continue onto the second phase. These were then taught how to select potential Snipers and select, sight, and conduct basic Sniper training. Once taught, students conducted their own training days under my watchful eye. All the skills taught on the basic course were covered and practiced. The course was split into two groups with each group conducting training on alternate days, with the other group along with my Pte Soldiers acting as students.
More emphasis was placed on navigation during this phase due to the smaller group and the fact that in the future they would have to teach their own Snipers to navigate. The course also conducted live stalks, unknown distance shoots, and linked stalks (more than one target OP) in order to fuel their imagination and give them a taste of continuation training.
The course was beneficial for both the Kenyan Army and my own Snipers. For the Kenyans, it was a chance to relearn skills lost and build the foundations for future in-house Sniper courses. For my own troops, it helped in the development of my own Snipers; all those who helped during the courses were Pte soldiers. They had a chance to teach and pass on their own skills and experiences to soldiers with an average of 15 to 20 years service. This helped them look at their own abilities, ensuring what was taught was correct and to the highest standard. They also had the chance to pit their wits against African soldiers during concealment and stalking stands. In some cases they were indeed humbled, but this too will aid them in the future and prevent them from becoming complacent.
I also used the time to try out the ASAT suit I purchased prior to the Kenya deployment. It proved very promising, It is light, sturdy, and stood up to plenty of 'wait a minute' bushes. On one occasion I wore it in an OP during a Stalking exercise. None of the thirty students found me, I must point out I had no screen, no backdrop, and no natural camouflage. The students had the grid of my location but could not see me, the one pair that did thought I was a hyena!