By Brandon Smith
God is not on the side of the big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best – Voltaire
For a long time sniper tactics have been consider by many, even in the military, to be akin to a kind of state designated “murder” rather than a legitimate combat strategy. Only in recent years has sniping achieved a certain level of recognition. Centuries of warfare have passed in which snipers were happily recruited for their skills, and then quickly swept under the rug and forgotten once conflict was over. Daniel Morgan and his crack-shot riflemen were instrumental in America’s revolutionary victory over the British. U.S. sharpshooters rained hell down on German troops from over 900 yards during WWI. Snipers have dominated the battlefield in every modern conflagration. Yet, regimented sniping schools were not standardized in the U.S. Army until 1987. All previous schools were abandoned within a few years of their establishment.
Why did it take so long for the sniper to be recognized as essential to victory? Perhaps because snipers are TOO effective, to the point that they become frightening to the establishment.
During the Finnish “Winter War” against the Soviet Union in which they were vastly outnumbered and outgunned, guerrilla tactics, which they called “Motti tactics”, were used to excellent effect. The Finnish devastated the Soviets using hit and run attacks, homemade and improvised weapons, and snipers. The most famous of these snipers was Simo Hayha.
Simo was a common farmer with a diminutive stature of only 5 feet 3 inches tall. His shooting prowess was honed as a hunter in the wilderness of Finland. Simo is credited with over 505 (official) kills, including several teams of Soviet counter-snipers sent specifically to eliminate him. These kills were made during less than 100 days of combat, meaning Hayha engaged and destroyed 5 targets per day by himself. Known as the “White Death”, Simo would finally be removed from the battlefield by a lucky shot from an explosive tipped rifle round to the face while holding off a Soviet advance; he would wake up later in a Finnish hospital at the very end of the war and die of old age in the year 2002.
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