Laying The Foundations      
Re-Introducing Sniping In The Kenyan Army

17 February 2002
By Slugboy

General

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 Kenya’s 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.

The Course

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.

Basic Training

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.

Weaponry
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


Measurements of the Range reticule, G3 SG/1, 7.62mm Sniper Rifle
Sight Picture:

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

Windage

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.

Wind Table
Range 100m 200m 300m 400m 500m 600m 700m
Moderate 0 0 1 1 or 2 2 2 or 3 3 or 4
Fresh 0 1 2 3 4 5 7
Strong 0 2 4 6 8 10 14


Weapon Specifications
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
Shooting

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.

Skills

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.

Side view of a Kenyan Soldier during a Concealment practical stand.


Instructor Training

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.

Two Kenyan Students manning an OP during a Stalking exercise








Kenyan Student acting as walker during a Concealment stand. British Sniper is under bush in layback position (he was not detected)


Benefits Of Course

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.


Points To Note

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!

ASAT suit in OP during Stalking Exercise
ASAT during Stalk used by Kenyan Paratrooper. Although colours not perfect It proved just as effective as a Ghillie suit and he passed all of his stands that day
ASAT suit from the rear during a stalk. Colours blend in far better than regular uniform. Like the Ghillie suit it breaks up the form, but needs natural camouflage to defeat the observer. However it is far lighter, folds down small and is less of a fire hazard than the Ghillie suit. (I dulled it down using spray paint)


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