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Monday, January 23, 2017

The Psychological effect of the sniper in the battle arena

A soldier loses motivation very quickly and those less well trained may refuse to move forward at all when he/she is required to move forward under sniper fire. The last thing a commander needs is to have his squad or platoon freeze and stop in conditions where the going was relatively easy up to that point, due to accurate or even inaccurate sniper fire.

Just like with IED’s there is very little soldiers can do to prevent getting killed by a sniper. Imagine this: your squad is tasked with mopping up an area of the last remaining enemy. Morale is high due to the successes you have had. The only casualty up to this point was when Johnny Smith was struck in the cheek by a tiny piece of shrapnel. He will live and have a great scar to boot as well.

Moving forward your radio orderly suddenly goes down with a shot to the head. You are slow to cover and the squad leader gets killed by the next shot. You find cover, but since you are exposed due to not knowing where the sniper is shooting from your SAW gunner goes down. Suddenly there are only five of you left and by the time this fight is over there are only four of your squad left and the squad is combat ineffective. The platoon commander must shift resources and the rest of you are stuck with latrine duty until you receive replacements. Morale has plummeted and some of you will go home with PTSD, which means you and your families will suffer, probably for the rest of your life.

One man or woman with a sniper rifle and the ability to shoot straight can turn a situation on its head and many of them even more so. A soldier fights for the men and women around him. Especially in wars of today where there is a large economic motivation, many soldiers feel they are fighting for the wrong reason and even if they are fighting for the right reason those they fight with are still very important to them. They do not want to see them get hurt.

Except for the fact that one hidden sniper can stop the advance, he/she can wound one of your comrades with a belly shot in the open. If the sniper chose his/her position well and you have no effective air support that wounded soldier can cry out for a long time. The sound of hearing a comrade wounded is extremely unnerving and you will remember that for a long time. This situation can also bait more soldiers to try to save their comrade, leading to further casualties as the sniper waits to pick them off.


As you can see the psychological effect of a sniper can be devastating in terms of creating psychologically scarred soldiers and bringing morale way down. Once morale plummets discipline also tends to go. Resources must be shifted once again. PTSD scarred soldiers who go home make their families part of the casualty count and this may give impetus to the anti-war effort one always finds. You start losing the will of the people and you start losing the war.

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