Sniper Training Manual Remains Offline (at FAS)

“When… dealing with multiple targets, such as two hostage-takers, [snipers] must coordinate to fire simultaneously,” according to a U.S. Army sniper training manual.  “Taking [the targets] out one at a time may allow the second suspect time to harm the hostages.”

This was the scenario facing Navy SEALs on the Indian Ocean on April 12.  They fired simultaneously at three Somali pirates, killing them and rescuing an American hostage.

“Shooting simultaneously by command fire with another sniper is a very important skill to develop and requires much practice,” the Army manual advises.

A copy of the U.S. Army Special Forces Sniper Training and Employment manual (FM 3-05.222) was obtained by Secrecy News.  Although the document is unclassified, it is subject to restricted distribution in order “to protect technical or operational information.”

For once, such restrictions appear to make sense and the 474-page manual will not be posted on the Federation of American Scientists website.  But as always, views on the question of disclosure differ.  A 2003 discussion on the “Shooter’s Forum” website presented contrasting opinions on the desirability of publishing this Manual.

Update (04/15/09): As noted at today, the document has been made available online elsewhere.

No Responses to “Sniper Training Manual Remains Offline (at FAS)”

  1. Daniel Shostak April 16, 2009 at 4:02 PM #


    I would like to ask you to reconsider your decision on not publishing the sniper’s manual. FAS is one of few sources to obtain military manuals and thus the public is dependent upon you making them available as you obtain them.

    I appreciate that there is a gray area between policy documents (which you regularly make available), and technical materials of less policy relevance. However, it should be the public and researchers who evaluate these materials for distribution.

    Furthermore, military discipline should be in the public view. What makes sense today, may not make sense tomorrow. For example, the use of snipers instead of the use of non-lethal force is a question that the recent pirate incident raises.

    Finally, I don’t recall you ever with holding documents and telling us about it. I am sure that you regularly decide not to publish documents, but you don’t editorialize about it. You do regularly publish military manuals and I think that is the appropriate approach.

  2. jeff February 12, 2010 at 1:27 PM #

    The manuals are limited in distribution for a reason. If you want access to these manuals, raise your right hand, enlist, and volunteer to try out for the Special Forces. Otherwise, continue to complain from your cozy couch.