by ‘Skittles’ by Max Velocity Tactical
MV: The question of the role of a designated marksman (DM) within FreeFor is often raised in comments. Today, ‘Skittles’ addresses the question:
Where do long range shooters fit in FreeFor SUT?
That is a question I have been asked many times. I am by no means an expert. The following is how I see long range guys fitting in and making an impact in FreeFor teams using Small Unit Tactics (SUT). With that said let it be clear that this is in no way supporting or condoning the idea of a mountain retreat sniper. Shooting bad guys from 9 to 5 while drinking coffee then going home to eat some freeze dried food and sleeping in a comfy bed all on his lonesome. Honestly, that makes no sense… so fuck that guy. Instead, this articles purpose is to help show those persons willing to fight for their loved ones and for freedom how to best utilize long range shooting skills and weapons they or their group may possess.
To start, let’s classify what a long range shooter can be as referred to in this article. A long range shooter is someone with not only the skills and equipment to shoot far, but one who shoots accurately regardless of range. Be it 100 yards or a 1000 yards. We will assume that he is competent with battle rifles such as the AR or AK. He is also familiar with SUT as described by trainers such as Max Velocity and as illustrated in his book ‘Contact‘. He is also physically fit and cable of running and carrying his gear on patrol through rugged terrain.
Now that the abilities and skills are defined, the long range shooter’s roles need to be defined. The first thought that comes to everyone’s mind is sniper. So is he a sniper? No. Will he implement some sniper skills? Yes. (unless you went to sniper school you aren’t a sniper). Is he recon? No. Will he perform recon style tasks? Yes. Is he a forward observer? No. But again he will perform tasks associated with that position? Yes. Is he a rifleman? Yes. Will he be filling the traditional rifleman role? No.
So if our FreeFor long range shooter is partially all of those but not completely a single one of them, then what is he? Seems like he is a jack of all trades and master of none. Kind of like the shade tree mechanic of freedom fighters. Well to be honest, that’s exactly what he is. A guerrilla with a lot of skills in multiple areas. So what shall we call this magnificent little critter? The best term I can think of to describe him is an Assault Scout. The following will explain why.
Squad Setup and assignment
We all know the details of the aforementioned military professions, so there is no need to go into detail what they do here. The assault scout will encompass and perform parts and pieces of each of those professions. Instead we discuss how to integrate and implement the beautiful little bastard.
For this article’s intents and purposes, the squad will be compromised of 13 men. It will consist of three fire teams of two buddy pairs and a squad leader that is free floating and attached to the team he deems necessary at the time. Fire teams Alpha and Bravo will each be a fire team consisting of two rifleman buddy pairs. Fire team Charlie will consist of two buddy pairs made of one assault scout and one rifleman. The squad organization and number of assault scouts and rifleman can and will change according the squad leader’s discretion and the mission demands. For this article, however, this is our setup.
Now that we have classified our assault scout and established a baseline of skills and abilities, how do we utilize him? The following are examples of squad functions and how to utilize the assault scout in SUT. These are not all the squad functions, nor all the ways to utilize a squad or its members. It is important to note that team communication must be solid. Especially between the Charlie team fire leader and the squad leader. They must know how one another thinks. Kind of like what the other will say before he says it. The reason being that some of the intel passed by Charlie will be by comms only. The squad leader may not be able to get eyes on due to distance or time, etc. The information relayed will be used by the squad leader for things such as route planning, route changes, fight through or break contact scenarios. If at all possible the squad leader would set Alpha and Bravo in security positions and go to Charlie’s position. In case that is not possible, it is critical that he not only knows what Charlie team leader is saying, but what he is trying to say as well.
Area Denial and scouting patrol
This describes a typical area denial or recce patrol. Lets start by setting up our patrol formation. Alpha and Bravo will patrol in traditional bounding over watch. Charlie, however, will bound both Alpha and Bravo as a single unit. So Charlie goes out and performs over watch while Alpha and Bravo bound each other. Pepper potting in a 1 up to 2 up ratio if you will. Charlie being a satellite fire team. By maintaining separation from the main body they can provide over watch for the main body of rifleman with their enhanced optics. By doing so Charlie can recon the route and terrain ahead and forward observe for obstacles and enemy positions. As well as possible ambush positions and choke points. They will then relay that information back to the squad leader for him to use in his decision making process and combat assessment.
In a recce patrol an assault scout can be utilized to his fullest potential. Charlie can pull recon and gather intel with their enhanced optics and any available night vision/thermals available. Charlie could also go full on scout sniper and use ghillie suits. They could stalk in and remain as invisible as possible. While Charlie snoops and poops, Alpha and Bravo can provide rear security, reserve element, or quick reaction force. Depending what is observed, mission objectives, and a host of other variables, the patrol could roll into an assault. If there is indirect fire support options the assault scouts could provide forward observation and call for fire support while Alpha and Bravo assault.
Contact on Patrol
Should the squad come into a contact situation, the battle drills are the standard battle drills that have been taught. They will either fight through or break contact and bug out. What changes is the amount of options the squad leader has at his disposal. In a fight through decision the squad can use Charlie team in several ways. First, he could use the sniper style skills of the assault scouts to not only suppress the enemy but out right kill them with highly accurate fire. Charlie could go firm, relaying info on enemy numbers and positions to the squad leader, while Alpha and Bravo fight through. Remember that there are two riflemen in Charlie. While they suppress with battle rifles the assault scouts are taking well aimed and deadly shots. Especially against any heavy weapon positions. Since all are trained in SUT, Charlie could also fire and move with Alpha and Bravo. With the extra accuracy the assault scouts bring to the squad as a whole, the squads suppressive fire will be more formidable resulting in less friendly casualties. As well as give the squad leader the ability to perform flanks, envelops, etc with greater ease.
Now, should the squad need to break contact, all the options to the squad leader remain the same. Just going in reverse. Charlie team can perform the same as they did before with the addition of fire and moving back with the rest of the squad. Be it as a satellite fire team like before or as part of the whole, taking turns in succession. One other option is for Alpha and Bravo to break contact as trained, and for Charlie to take rapid bounds back in buddy pairs. Charlie can bound to a greater distance and faster than Alpha and Bravo, essentially getting behind them and at a great distance. They could then go firm, temporarily, and provide accurate suppressive fire for Alpha and Bravo, as well take down any enemy giving chase. This would give the squad some stand off distance and breathing room to bug out.
In an ambush an assault scout can be a force multiplier to the lethality of the squad. Lets say that the squad sets up to ambush and enemy patrol. At a bend in a road the squad sets up and “L” shaped ambush in accordance with the bend. Charlie is the short leg, Alpha and Bravo are the long leg. The enemy patrol is coming down the road in a direct line to Charlie’s position. Now what can Charlie do? First, they can observe the enemy patrol at a greater distance. They can determine if they are able to successfully conduct the ambush or if that enemy squad is suddenly an enemy platoon or if there are any unexpected heavy weapons in the enemy patrol. The squad leader can assess the information relayed to him and decide whether to continue the ambush or to bug out. Due to the greater distance of observation, they can inform the squad sooner of the enemy coming into position, giving him more time to analyze and decide. It also allows for more time for the squad to relay information and to get ready to ambush or to bug out. The assault scouts can also potentially locate any high value targets during their longer observation period. If the squad leader decides to spring the ambush he could set it to go after Charlie fires. The assault scouts could spring the ambush by taking out a high value target, heavy weapons operators, or by getting two kills of enemy rifleman right off the start. Any of which would help put the momentum for the FreeFor squad‘s favor. After Charlie initiates, Alpha and Bravo would use the shots as the signal for them to engage. When the squad leader decides to send the fight through fire team/ clean and sweep fire team, Charlie can provide over watch and highly accurate “over the shoulder” fire support. Also known as intimate support.
In an assault function, assault scouts can serve several key functions. Recon of the target being first and foremost. After the intel is passed to and made by the squad leader, Charlie can actually initiate the assault. If Charlie starts the assault from a further distance than the capabilities of the enemies weapons, they have the ability to take accurate, killing shots with the safety of distance. So the assault scouts initiate the assault while the two rifleman provide security and act as spotters calling out enemy positions, wind values, etc. Bravo at that point can do several things. If planned and prepared properly, they could be closer to the enemy than Charlie in a hidden position. They could serve as an ambush for any skirmishers that try to fire and move towards Charlie. Or if need be, could go firm and provide fire support for Charlie. Bravo could take a rapid suppressive fire role. Now that the enemy’s attention is on Charlie and/or Bravo, we still have Alpha to use. While the enemy is busy with the other two fire teams, Alpha can go to the flank of the enemy and prepare to fight through. Once the signal is given, Bravo would shift fire to another position in depth or take a reserve element role, Alpha would assault and fight through from the flank, and Charlie would provide intimate fire support for Alpha. Another scenario is for Bravo to initiate the assault and go firm providing rapid suppressive fire on the enemy. Charlie has remained hidden and with the use of suppressors and proper concealment, engage the enemy. There is a chance the enemy will not notice Charlie because of their covert measures. Alpha could then go to the flank as before.
So in conclusion, hopefully, some of the abilities and usefulness of long range shooters in SUT have been expanded in this article. Their skills and abilities can be force multipliers to solid tactics. There are numerous ways to integrate assault scouts into a squad, how to deploy them, how many to put into a squad, and the equipment they use. These are just a couple of examples integrated in with the basics of SUT. They are by no means the only way or the “Golden” way.
(For further discussion of the 12 (13) man squad, see this post: ‘The Squad: Size and Organization‘ and the follow up ‘More on The Squad & the Assault Cycle‘. This article by Skittles is a refinement of that concept)
About the Author – Max Velocity is a tactical self-defense trainer and author providing instruction and advice for those preparing for disaster survival and societal collapse situations.
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