Hide and Seek: U.S. Marines with Scout Snipers Course participate in stalking exercise

July 29, 2020

U.S. Marines with the Scout Sniper Course 2-20, Reconnaissance Training Company, Advanced Infantry Battalion, School of Infantry – West, participated in a stalking and infiltration course in the Romeo Training Area on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, July 26.

The Marines started at a designated grid point then moved forward by various means toward two observers. The objective was to close with a target, fire two shots and then exfiltrate from the training area. The trick is the Marines had to do it all without being detected by the observers. To help them in that, the Marines applied camouflage paint and built their own ghillie suits.

“The most important part of this exercise, in my opinion, is learning how to properly utilize camouflage,” said U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Steven O’keefe, an instructor with the Scout Sniper Course. “The Marines must also learn to utilize the things in front and around them.”

Some challenges that add to the difficulty of stalking exercises are the different types and height of vegetation in the area, route selection, size of the area and the time of day.

 “The most important part of this exercise, in my opinion, is learning how to properly utilize camouflage.” Staff Sgt. Steven O’keefe, Scout Sniper Course instructor

Camp Pendleton has over 25 stalking lanes for sniper training. The training areas differ by vegetation, size of the area and terrain.

Prior to this training the students participated in land navigation, classes on the basic infantry skills, live-fire exercises and other stalking lanes.

“The hardest part for me was moving to the final firing point without being detected,” said Lance Cpl. Norman Ballard a student with the Scout Sniper Course. “The vegetation in this lane is also taller, so that makes the final firing point difficult to find in this lane.”

The class started with over 20 Marines and is now expecting to graduate 14 when the 12-week course ends in late August. Between now and then, the Marines will conduct more ranges and stalking lanes, before finally ending with a culminating event that puts all the skills and knowledge they’ve gained from the course to the test.