Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Marine Snipers Train Throughout Deployment

By Marine Corps Cpl. Jonathan Sosner, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

AMMAN, Jordan -- A shot is fired, and a small cloud of dust kicks up. Seconds later, the ping of a bullet hitting a steel target 800 meters away is heard. “Hit,” says the spotter. The shooter pulls back the bolt of the suppressed M40A6 rifle and sends a new round into the chamber, ready to fire again.

This is one of hundreds of repetitions every time the scout sniper platoon with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit gets the chance to train. However, it is not only the scout snipers who take part in this precision cycle.

Professionally instructed gunmen, affectionately known as “PIGs,” make up the majority of the scout sniper platoon, working alongside the scout snipers, also known as hunters of gunmen, or “HOGs,” to accomplish the mission.

Made up of infantry Marines who have been carefully selected based on marksmanship and physical and mental strength, among other factors, the PIGs are a critical asset to the success of the scout sniper platoon.

“The PIGs and HOGs have similar jobs on paper; however, the HOGs have the advantage of the formal training that they get at the scout sniper school and all of the experience that comes with it,” said a Marine assigned to the scout sniper platoon whose name is being withheld for security reasons. “Once we go out as a platoon, though, everyone gets the same training and we all work side by side.”

Step Toward Certification

Marines in the scout sniper platoon proudly associate themselves as PIGs, as it is the step that all Marines go through to become certified as a scout sniper.

“Most Marines who are PIGs are selected through an indoctrination program where they are put through a series of mental and physical tests to see if they have what it takes,” the Marine said. “There is a lot of classroom time where they teach you the basics, and then they send you out to the field to test your skills as an infantryman, as well as throw you into new situations to see how you will react.”

While the vast majority of PIGs are infantry Marines, Navy corpsmen and communication Marines also are trained and fully integrated into the unit.

Much of the time as a PIG is spent trying to absorb the knowledge and experience of the HOGs.

“The scout snipers won’t be there forever,” the Marine said. “Just like you have new Marines coming into a line company that need to be mentored and developed, PIGs are mentored and developed by the HOGs to hopefully go on and become scout snipers.”

Since the 26th MEU’s deployment has begun, the PIGs and HOGs have trained side by side in Israel, Djibouti and Jordan, refining their skills more and more with each exercise.

“We’ve had some great opportunities to train since we’ve been deployed, and the PIGS have been able to get better and better with each exercise,” the Marine said. “The PIGs are the future of the sniper community, and this training helps us make sure that we’re ready, should we get the opportunity to someday become a HOG.”

Mattis, Macedonian Defense Minister Reaffirm Defense Relationship

WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary James N. Mattis met with Macedonian Defense Minister Radmila Shekerinska today at the Pentagon to reaffirm the strong defense relationship between the U.S. and Macedonia, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said.
Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and the Macedonian defense minister walk up the steps of the Pentagon.

In a statement summarizing the meeting, White said Mattis and Shekerinska discussed the pending name issue with Greece, which has prevented Macedonian accession to NATO. Greece and the Republic of Macedonia, formerly a region within Yugoslavia, are engaged in a political dispute on “Macedonia.”

The United States supports efforts to resolve this issue, White said, and stands by the decision NATO made at its 2008 summit in Bucharest, Romania.

Praise for Macedonian Efforts

During today’s meeting, White said, Mattis praised Macedonia’s recent increase in defense spending and its plan to reach the target of spending 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense as agreed upon by member nations at the alliance’s 2014 summit in Wales.

“Secretary Mattis also thanked the minister for Macedonia’s defense contributions to the mission in Afghanistan, as well as Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iraq,” White said.

Mattis Addresses Issues in Syria, Afghanistan, Korea

By Lisa Ferdinando,  DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- The situation in Syria is the “most complex security situation, fighting situation” he has experienced in his four decades of military service, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said yesterday.

In a wide-ranging half-hour discussion with Pentagon reporters, Mattis discussed the situations in Syria and Afghanistan, as well as the Korean Peninsula.

He said he was to discuss the way forward in Syria later in the day with the United Nations special envoy for Syria.

“I’m meeting with Staffan de Mitura [to] see where the Geneva process is and what we can do to assist,” Mattis said. “And obviously, it’s mostly a diplomatic effort in Geneva, but it has a military element, which says we don’t allow ISIS to come back in the midst of all this.”

The United States, Mattis said, is working with all the countries in the region that are “engaged in trying to make stability a reality.”

Mattis met today with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“What we don’t want to do, now that we are on the cusp of winning on the battlefield in terms of taking down the physical caliphate, the geographic caliphate, we do not want to simply pull out before the diplomats have won the peace,” he said. “So you win the fight, and then you win the peace.”

Nearly all the nations in the region are concerned about Iranian activities, he said.

Taliban on ‘Back Foot’

The Taliban and ISIS in Afghanistan are continuing to target civilians, Mattis said. “You can break them apart in terms of what organization they’re part of, but their goal is to destabilize the elected government,” he said.

The Taliban were put on their “back foot” by strikes against their financial networks, the continued U.S. presence in Afghanistan, and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani saying his government was willing to negotiate with the Taliban, Mattis said.

“We anticipated that they would do their best to try to bring bombs right into Kabul,” he said, pointing out the Taliban has targeted voting or voter registration locations, where crowds of innocent people gather.

“The Taliban realize the danger of the people being allowed to vote,” he said, noting that citizens have risked their own safety to protest the Taliban in a number of demonstrations throughout the country.

The United States, Mattis said, will continue to “fight and protect the innocent people.”

Strengthened Alliance

Mattis said he spent at least an hour on the phone April 28 with South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo. He said the call was part of the broader collaboration and constant consultation between the United States and South Korea, as developments unfold on the Korean Peninsula.

Mattis said it is “pretty calm” on both the North and South Korean side, with no indicators or warnings of an increased military readiness in the North.

The U.S.-South Korea alliance remains strong, he said, noting recent developments have strengthened the alliance even further. In a statement April 28, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said the leaders discussed the results of the inter-Korea summit. Both leaders, the statement said, expressed their “serious commitment to a diplomatic resolution that achieves complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea.”