Security Forces Close Precision Engagement Teams
Close Precision Engagement Teams or Counter Sniper Teams are charged with protecting flight lines and other sensitive places. They are trained to remove the threat of snipers that could damage or destroy aircraft and prevent air missions from being conducted. They are also act as over watch for sensitive operations involving other Security Forces personnel providing an extra layer of security.
USAF Security Forces Counter Snipers Teams were first trained at The Air Force Counter Sniper School at Camp Joseph T. Robinson Army National Guard facility in Arkansas. In 2008 the school was moved to Ft Bliss outside El Paso, TX. The course was renamed Close Precision Engagement Team with the move to Bliss. Beginning with Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Air Force Security Forces leaders recognized the need for a specialized team to aid in base exterior reconnaissance and to support Security Forces personnel outside the base perimeter.
Concept of Operations
Each Close Precision Engagement Team, is composed of two individuals, the sniper and the spotter. The spotter identifies targets, gathers range and windage adjustments and relays this information to the sniper. The sniper makes the adjustments on the M-24 and fires on the target.
All counter snipers use the M-24 weapons system. It is composed of M-24 rifle with an M-3A telescopic sight. It fires the standard 173 grain NATO 7.62 round with a five round magazine and one in the chamber and is bolt operated.
The process for Airmen to become a certified Air Force sniper begins with the Advanced Designated Marksman course, an 11-day training course that familiarizes the Airman with the M24 weapon system. Following ADM and through recommendation of instructors, an Airman can return to Fort Bliss, Texas to attend the 19-day Close Precision Engagement Course to learn field techniques and tactics to use in conjunction with the information learned during ADM.
The Close Precision Engagement Course is a challenging 19-day course that course teaches advanced marksmanship and military scouting skills to Air Force security forces members. Approximately 800 students have attended the course since its inception at Camp Robinson, Ark. in 2002 and after the course's relocation to Fort Bliss in 2008. Only 500 students finished; about 20 percent wash out from every class.
The CPEC curriculum is densely scheduled. Twelve or more hours of academics and practical exercises are built into most class days, while additional drills, hours on watch, or individual preparations after the duty day consume students' time.
The course is physically demanding as well. Many PT drills are conducted every day all designed to place the student under stress. During these drills memory tests are given by the instructors to insure they can operate under extreme stress.
Instructors teach the class the skills required of a sniper. This includes an extensive course on the M24, the military's primary sniper rifle. The students are also taught are target detection, range estimation, and camouflage and concealment. The art of ghille suits is taught as an essential part of the counter snipers training. Each suit must match the terrain and vegetation of the area the counter sniper is operating in.
Each student must pass 2 of 4 “stalks”. The stalks consist of moving through 500-700 meters of difficult terrain, set up and locate the target, in this case a dummy named “Bob" without being seen. Instructors stand off from Bob and attempt to locate the sniper as they approach using spotting scopes. The counter sniper must engage the target with a precise shot within a defined time limit to pass the stalk.
Close Precision Engagement Teams have been deployed in both Afghanistan and Iraq in support of air force missions. The 820th Security Forces Group has reorganized to include the Close Precision Engagement Teams as an essential part of the overall base defense plan.