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WMcQuaig
03-11-2010, 07:44 AM
Okay

I've been doing research for a particular thing concerning Military Snipers. I know there are certain psychological demands for sniping in general, not testing done by the military. Things like watching the target die, knowing that your bullet will kill someone and that you are solely responsible for it.

I have been told that there is a certain psychological problem that can develop in snipers based on the previously mentioned psychological demands but I can't seem to find any information about it. I don't even know if it has a real name.

I would guess that it's similar to the whole "playing god" kind of thing. I can only imagine how it would affect a person based on the information I've already found, I just don't know if there is a specific term for it or not.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

shadowwalker
03-11-2010, 08:54 AM
I don't know if this is any help, but my father was a sniper in WWII (I think they just used whoever was the best shot) and on the one occasion when he talked about it, he said, "If I didn't shoot them, they'd've wiped us out." Period. So maybe the psychological thing stems from how the individual sees his role - executioner, savior, or just doing what had to be done.

Nivarion
03-11-2010, 09:18 AM
I was watching a documentary on the history channel (was it the discovery?) about snipers.

it seemed that killing someone though a scope was a lot less taxing on the mind than killing them up close. Some even seemed to enjoy it.

I'm going to go see if I can find said documentary on the youtube.

Okay, I found it.

It was Snipers: Inside the Cross hairs.
This is the first part. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ABQPSOTfic)

Some of the snipers talk about the mental aspects of hunting a man during it.

eurodan49
03-12-2010, 08:21 AM
20% wash out after their first kill. Sniping is much more than just acquiring a target and squeezing the trigger. Long time ago someone told me: “Sniping isn’t a game. It’s deadly stalking. It’s not cat against mouse but cat against cat. A sniper will always act, never react. Remember that and you may survive.”

WMcQuaig
03-12-2010, 09:21 AM
Thanks for all the help. I was kind of leaning toward this conclusion myself. Being that it really depends on the person.

I watched the video Nivarion linked to and it really helped a lot.

Thanks Everyone

Bing Z
03-12-2010, 09:39 AM
You can actually compare a military sniper to a murderer, in some senses.

I remember reading something written by a Vietnam war era sniper. He said the job was taxing psychologically, because it gave him the power of God. He once let a Vietcong finished his meal before he pulled the trigger. Imagine the life of those legendary WWII snipers who killed more officers than we kill roaches+ants.

shadowwalker
03-12-2010, 12:19 PM
You can actually compare a military sniper to a murderer, in some senses.

I don't think I'd agree with that at all. You might just as well replace "military sniper" with "soldier", since both are killing under orders during a military action. That's not murder - that's war.

Rowan
03-12-2010, 03:16 PM
One of my best friends was a SF sniper and he didn't suffer any PTSD, etc. but he is a unique personality type. :) I recommend that you read "Marine Sniper: 93 confirmed kills" by Charles Henderson. That will give you an inside look at a Vietnam era niper (Carlos Hatchcock).

I also disagree that a sniper can be compared to a murderer. Or any solider/Marine/Sailor, etc. Murderers? I don't think so...

Stanmiller
03-13-2010, 12:29 AM
You can actually compare a military sniper to a murderer, in some senses.

I remember reading something written by a Vietnam war era sniper. He said the job was taxing psychologically, because it gave him the power of God. He once let a Vietcong finished his meal before he pulled the trigger. Imagine the life of those legendary WWII snipers who killed more officers than we kill roaches+ants.

In what sense can you compare a military sniper who deals with armed enemy combatants trying their best to kill him/her (yes there are female snipers) with a drive-by shooter, or homicidally enraged adult shaking a kid to death?

Did you really think about that statement, or are you throwing out something you heard someone else say?

--Stan

Bing Z
03-13-2010, 02:26 AM
I don't think I'd agree with that at all. You might just as well replace "military sniper" with "soldier", since both are killing under orders during a military action. That's not murder - that's war.


In what sense can you compare a military sniper who deals with armed enemy combatants trying their best to kill him/her (yes there are female snipers) with a drive-by shooter, or homicidally enraged adult shaking a kid to death?

Did you really think about that statement, or are you throwing out something you heard someone else say?

--Stan

I should have reworded it as compare to a hitman in a sense, which I explained in my followed paragraph. I may have used that word because a hitman is a a subset of a murderer.

You see, soldiers fight against each others for their countries and comrades. Equipment, training, and support varies, but the principles remain pretty similar. Basically they fight on fair grounds.

A sniper, not so much. It's a rather new concept (1890'ish or so?) It's ultra effective. He/she should pick his/her prime targets (usually the officers for maximum damage) unless it’s a behind-enemy-line assignation operation (which is very much hitman exercise.) That story that I mentioned, written by the Vietnam war sniper, his target had no clue he was being aimed at while he ate his meal, and the moment he put down his chopsticks, a bullet would end his life. That is not the nature of traditional warfare.

Yeah I know there are female military snipers, IIRC two of the most decorated snipers in history were females. I'd assume they took even more toll psychologically.

Being in war doesn’t necessary make what’s used the right thing in a sense. Waterboarding and torturing are effective, saves soldier lives if crucial information can be extracted before too late. Should they be used?

shadowwalker
03-13-2010, 02:50 AM
Being in war doesn’t necessary make what’s used the right thing in a sense. Waterboarding and torturing are effective, saves soldier lives if crucial information can be extracted before too late. Should they be used?

I think a distinction needs to be made between an armed combatant (who, should he finish that meal, would be shortly killing enemy soldiers), and unarmed prisoners who have no way of defending themselves against torture. The soldier in a war zone has (or should have) every expectation that at any moment a bullet from whatever source, sniper or otherwise, could end their life.

eurodan49
03-13-2010, 03:58 AM
Distinction should also be made to the armed combatant of a militia or terrorist organization who can kill with impunity, throw his weapon away and surrender when situation dictates it, knowing he will be interned, taken care of, not subjected to “harsh” interrogation, and eventually freed…. to start all over again.

shadowwalker
03-13-2010, 04:19 AM
Distinction should also be made to the armed combatant of a militia or terrorist organization who can kill with impunity, throw his weapon away and surrender when situation dictates it, knowing he will be interned, taken care of, not subjected to “harsh” interrogation, and eventually freed…. to start all over again.

Torture can be justified by anyone at any time - history proves that. That doesn't make it right or honorable - and certainly feeds the fanatacism of the terrorists, who can justifiably point out the lies and hypocrisy of their enemy. Not to mention that torture only produces what the torturers want to hear - not necessarily the truth, but only what the victim figures will stop the torture. It is, in all honesty, only a way for the torturers to act on their own fear.

eurodan49
03-13-2010, 04:39 AM
“and certainly feeds the fanatacism of the terrorists” I think you want to say fanaticism.
LOL, like therrorists need excuses.
It amazes me how those with the most “libertarian” ideologies are those who never have the guts to defend themselves and their way of life, always look for others to do it while criticizing the methods.

thothguard51
03-13-2010, 04:53 AM
Snipping is new? Has only been around since about the 1890's? Sighhh...

There have been American military snipers in every war since the American Revolution, though not as well trained as today's snipers. Please rethink that statement...

Now, comparing a sniper to a hit-man, no way. One does so for money, the other for duty and country. The skills only seem the same to the average person who watches too much TV and has never served in the military or studied the subject. Both have different mentalities and skill sets they employ.

As far as the mental aspects of snipping, have you ever thought where the term going postal came from or what it means? Lots of average citizens can not handle the stress of their jobs or lives and something in them snaps. With sniper's, the percentage is lower because of how the military constantly evaluates their mental status, as well as their training and support system Still, no one can predict how a person is going to react between their 1st and 50th kill, which is why they are constantly evaluated.

The sniper's main skill is survival before and after the kill. The military has invested a lot of time and money in training professional sniper's. They want them to survive, physically and mentally.

Rowan
03-13-2010, 05:37 AM
Now, comparing a sniper to a hit-man, no way. One does so for money, the other for duty and country. The skills only seem the same to the average person who watches too much TV and has never served in the military or studied the subject. Both have different mentalities and skill sets they employ.



Bolding is mine.
As a former Marine, I couldn't agree more. It's something you have to experience to fully understand/appreciate. You can speculate all you want but sometimes there's no substiture for firsthand experience... :)

shadowwalker
03-13-2010, 05:55 AM
“and certainly feeds the fanatacism of the terrorists” I think you want to say fanaticism.
LOL, like therrorists need excuses.
It amazes me how those with the most “libertarian” ideologies are those who never have the guts to defend themselves and their way of life, always look for others to do it while criticizing the methods.

I find it amazing how someone who doesn't know me from Adam can call me a coward. I come from a long line of military men - my father, an Army sergeant (and sniper) in WWII, was also awarded the Bronze Star. I had brothers in both the Marines and the Air Force. One brother did three tours in Vietnam. My family is well aware of what is required.

I imagine the Germans, Japanese, Chinese, North Koreans, Russians, Argentinians, Chileans - all of them were told not to criticize, that those being tortured, jailed without trial or just out and out murdered deserved it, and that these measures were necessary to protect the population. Fear and uncertainty are wonderful tools for those in power - keeps the population from thinking or protesting.

GeorgeK
03-13-2010, 06:25 AM
Killing the enemy leader for (g)God(s) and country so that you risk your own life in place of legions of others to prevent a war that will kill many more...seems like a sniper to me, and that was Mucius Scaevola during the early Roman Republic. I'm sure there are older examples but that's the oldest I could think of on the spot.

This is certainly not a new concept. Only the weapons have changed, and therefore also the tactics.

Cath
03-13-2010, 06:25 AM
Guys, this is not the politics forum, 'kay. Please focus on sharing facts and experience to answer the OP's question.

shadowwalker
03-13-2010, 07:02 AM
Guys, this is not the politics forum, 'kay. Please focus on sharing facts and experience to answer the OP's question.

My apologies.

quixote100104
03-14-2010, 01:29 PM
Killing the enemy leader for (g)God(s) and country so that you risk your own life in place of legions of others to prevent a war that will kill many more...seems like a sniper to me, and that was Mucius Scaevola during the early Roman Republic. I'm sure there are older examples but that's the oldest I could think of on the spot.

If I'm finding the right reference http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mucius , then this doesn't seem to fit for sniping, which is usually confined to ranged weapons.

As to military sniping be comperable to murder, that's a non-starter. Murder is pre-meditated killing outside of the law which governs the perpetrator. Thus, no killing by any soldier that falls within the bounds of military regulations and the rules of engagement can, by definition, be murder.

When you break out of legal and into ethical issues, things get muddier and it's hard to say that anyone's inherently right or wrong, because it's really just a matter of opinion (most ethics and morals are). To use a different but relevant example, one could easily say that all espionage agencies are, in effect, criminal organizations, since espionage is illegal in every country and a captiol crime in most. Yet almost all countires have them, to one degree or another and, for the most part, authorize them by law to commit crimes in other countires. The ethics of that, just like those of killing on behalf of your government's political interests, are very personal.

Personally, I think that properly executed sniping is slightly more ethical than other forms of combat soldiering. If you drop a bomb or fire an artillery piece, for example, you are essentially shooting at a target you can't really see or evaluate as legitimate. We've all read the results of mistakes made by those designating the targets. If you're on the street with a rifle or a machinegun, you're in a position to get trapped in a very fast moving, rapidly changing situation where you could easily find yourself engaging targets without the time or information to properly evaluate them. In the classic sniper scenario, engaging a target that can not see you and may not even be aware of being under threat, you have the time to carefully evaluate the shoot/no shoot decision. It would seem to me this would lead to fewer mistakes.

Please note that the above is a personal opinion about the ethics of various practices, not the people who do them. Not everyone can be a sniper and snipers can't win a war alone. War is a collection of (generally bad) comprimises and I have great respect for anyone, in any capacity, who does thier best to get through it with honor.

In terms of psychological problems for snipers, the thing I've read and heard most about is a difficulty with the personal contact made through the scope. The same elements I mentioned afford the sniper a chance to get to know thier target a good deal more than most other combatants. They may look them in the eyes, watch them doing normal things (as in the eating example previously given). They have a greater oportunity to identify with the target, and then make a conscious, deliberate decision to kill that person. In the process, they also re-affirm for themselves the constant risk they themselves live under of dying at any moment, perhaps without any chance to escape or defend themselves. That's a pretty powerful psychological issue, I'd think. Some undoubtably cope with it better than others, but it would be there for everyone.

David Drake has said that, based on his experiances in Vietnam, the primary issue he saw was the constant sense that death could strike at any moment, from any direction, with a far greater likelihood than at home. He said it made him and most of the soldiers he knew a little crazy. A sniper is the living embodiment of this constant, almost subliminal threat. Generating that fear is an important part of the strategy of sniper employment, so they can hardly be unaware of it.