January 2, 2006


Sniper shot that took out an insurgent killer from three quarters of a mile (Toby Harnden, 01/01/2006, Daily Telegraph)

Gazing through the telescopic sight of his M24 rifle, Staff Sgt Jim Gilliland, leader of Shadow sniper team, fixed his eye on the Iraqi insurgent who had just killed an American soldier.

His quarry stood nonchalantly in the fourth-floor bay window of a hospital in battle-torn Ramadi, still clasping a long-barrelled Kalashnikov. Instinctively allowing for wind speed and bullet drop, Shadow's commander aimed 12 feet high.

A single shot hit the Iraqi in the chest and killed him instantly. It had been fired from a range of 1,250 metres, well beyond the capacity of the powerful Leupold sight, accurate to 1,000 metres.

"I believe it is the longest confirmed kill in Iraq with a 7.62mm rifle," said Staff Sgt Gilliland, 28, who hunted squirrels in Double Springs, Alabama from the age of five before progressing to deer - and then people.

U.S. Engineer Views Work Done So Far With Pride (Ellen Knickmeyer, January 2, 2006, Washington Post)

Speeding off to another rebuilding project, Maj. John Hudson of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wheeled out of the driveway of one of his many prides and joys: the headquarters of Iraq's new broadcast regulatory body, a sunlit building with an open floor plan, overlooking the Tigris River.

As Hudson's convoy popped onto the street, an Iraqi driver nearby -- trained to stop dead at the sight of any one U.S. Humvee or two or more sport-utility vehicles -- slammed on his brakes. The Iraqi sat stoically as a car rear-ended his, the crunch of metal audible through the bulletproof windows of Hudson's SUV.

Hudson kept talking about his projects, without spilling a drop from his travel cup of Starbucks coffee, sent from home.

"A lot of the high-end finish materials still have to be imported," Hudson said, referring to the seamlessly laid marble tiles in the new offices of the National Communication and Media Commission. The marble for the $5.2 million offices came from Italy, Hudson presumed.

"Craftsmanship," said Hudson, a blue-eyed 35-year-old from Colorado Springs. "A lot of pride and workmanship in that project."

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 2, 2006 10:02 AM

Ahmed, puzzled, awakens to find himself surrounded by 72 squirrels and 0 virgins.

Posted by: Mort at January 2, 2006 1:12 PM

The 72 squirrels were virgins. The Koran isn't species specific about that.

Posted by: erp at January 2, 2006 1:30 PM

Annie Oakley would be so proud. As are all true-blue Americans.

Posted by: obc at January 2, 2006 2:17 PM

Aimed 12 feet high to adjust for drop and wind speed....shot from 1,250 meters. Unbelievable.

Posted by: AWW at January 2, 2006 3:39 PM

This was a very, very good shot.

Most impressive is the idea that it was made instinctively, presumably without recourse to to things like laser range-finders and hand-held anemometers such as we use for groundhogs.

The shooter, and the rifle, and the target all become one system, and. . .it shoots.

This has long been part of the American way of war. In the War of 1812, the Commanding Generals of the British troops at Washington and Baltomore, General Robert Ross, and at New Orleans, General Lord Pakenham, were killed by American Riflemen.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 2, 2006 5:21 PM

And in the Civil War; let us not forget The Death of General John Sedgwick
By Martin T. McMahon, Brevet Major-General, U.S.V.; Chief-of-Staff, Sixth Corps:

I gave the necessary order to move the troops to the right, and as they rose to execute the movement the enemy opened a sprinkling fire, partly from sharp-shooters. As the bullets whistled by, some of the men dodged. The general said laughingly, " What! what! men, dodging this way for single bullets! What will you do when they open fire along the whole line? I am ashamed of you. They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance." A few seconds after, a man who had been separated from his regiment passed directly in front of the general, and at the same moment a sharp-shooter's bullet passed with a long shrill whistle very close, and the soldier, who was then just in front of the general, dodged to the ground. The general touched him gently with his foot, and said, " Why, my man, I am ashamed of you, dodging that way," and repeated the remark, " They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance." The man rose and saluted and said good-naturedly, " General, I dodged a shell once, and if I hadn't, it would have taken my head off. I believe in dodging." The general laughed and replied, "All right, my man; go to your place."
For a third time the same shrill whistle, closing with a dull, heavy stroke, interrupted our talk; when, as I was about to resume, the general's face turned slowly to me, the blood spurting from his left cheek under the eye in a steady stream. He fell in my direction ; I was so close to him that my effort to support him failed, and I fell with him.

General John Sedgwick was serving as a Union commander in the U.S. Civil War, and was hit by sniper fire, at the battle of Spotsylvania, on May 9, 1864.

His corps was probing skirmish lines ahead of the left flank of Confederate defenses and he was directing artillery placements. Confederate sharpshooters were about 1,000 yards away.
He was the highest ranking Union casualty (the most senior by date of rank of all major generals killed) of the Civil War.

Sedgwick's reputation was that of a solid, dependable, but relatively unaggressive general. Ulysses S. Grant characterized Sedgwick as one who "was never at fault when serious work was to be done" and he told his staff that the loss for him was worse than that of an entire division.

A 1,000 yard head shot, with a 19th century rifle and scope, has got to be right up there with SSg Gilliland's feat.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at January 2, 2006 5:57 PM

Maybe it was a time traveler? Or luck?

Posted by: RC at January 3, 2006 2:12 AM

Hockey and curling aren't the only things we're good at.

Posted by: Peter B at January 3, 2006 7:47 AM

Michael: The apocryphal version of Sedgewick's last words, while not as well documented as the McMahon account,is a lot more fun: "Nonsense! They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist. . .".

The Johnnies were particularly adept at American-style point-fire. They benefitted from rural hunting traditions and imported British-made Whitworth rifles, which used elongated bullets swaged to exactly mate with the the weapon's unique octagonal rifling.

We note than out Staff Sargeant Gilliland is from Alabama.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 3, 2006 12:15 PM

Peter: Good Golly.

Lou: Good point re: Gilliland's home - glad the Rebs are back on our side.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at January 4, 2006 3:39 AM