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Book offers rare insight into professional snipers

When Matt Larsen brought me a copy of Sniper: American Single-Shot Warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan, I couldn’t wait to start reading it. Not only because I know the authors, Gina Cavallaro, a journalist who used to write for the Army Times and now writes for the Marine Corps Times, and Mr. Larsen, a retired Soldier and subject matter expert in combatives for The Bayonet, who served as a sniper in the Marines Corps and in the Ranger community and is a good storyteller, but because I would get an insider’s look at nine years of war from the battlefield.

The authors interviewed both Marine and Army snipers from the U.S. Army Sniper School on Fort Benning, the Special Forces Sniper Course at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, N.C., and at sniper competitions like the one that starts here Monday, warriors who don’t talk about their experiences except with people they trust.

Larsen said the goal was to be authentic to the sniper experience, sharing the sniper story from the battlefield.

The book starts with an introduction from GEN(R) Richard Cody, the Army’s 31st vice chief of staff, who talks about asymmetrical threats and developing countermeasures for the troops downrange, how the Soldiers in harm’s way shared their lessons learned and regardless of the current enemy’s ability, “it is no match for the innovativeness and agility of the American Soldier.”

The preface, by Ms. Cavallaro, describes the death of a Soldier killed by an Iraqi sniper. She is an artful storyteller and as I read this account, I got goosebumps.

The authors are masterful in the pacing of the individual stories, weaving in the technical aspects of sniping with the professionalism of our Soldiers, their camaraderie and warrior ethos.

I love that this book is about the Soldiers we know and who could be shooting in the International Sniper Competition next week.