Sniper attacks in Iraq have not quadrupled

sniper in rashid, iraqIt appears that previous claims were just plain wrong. A story in USA Today, erm, today, includes this:

In last week’s spending request, the Pentagon said sniper attacks have quadrupled in the past year and, if unchecked, the attacks could eclipse roadside bombs as the top killer of U.S. troops. However, the rate of sniper attacks has dropped slightly in 2007 and fallen dramatically in the past four months, according to military records given to USA TODAY.

Pentagon officials acknowledged the mistake Monday after questions about the data were raised by USA TODAY.

“The term quadrupled will be removed from the justification because it is simply incorrect,” said Dave Patterson, deputy undersecretary of Defense.

In 2006, there were 386 sniper attacks on coalition forces, according to data from the Multi-National Force-Iraq headquarters in Iraq. Through Oct. 26 of this year, there were 269 sniper attacks, the figures show.

October 26th was the 299th day of the year, so that means that there is an average of 0.899 sniper attacks per day. Less than one.

Regardless of whether or not the number of sniper attacks is growing or shrinking, and regardless of whether or not all the advanced technology being rushed into service will help, the best counter to a sniper is, well, a counter-sniper.

And, as usual, I will insert a plug for One good sniper can make a huge difference, more so now as violence falls than ever. makes sure that our marksmen have the tools they need to get the job done.

Caption for the photo:

A sniper from Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment searches for enemy snipers from a rooftop in Rashid, Iraq, June 2, 2007. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Tierney Nowland)

Click the image for a larger version.


  1. Speaking of advanced sniper technology, I attended a story telling festival at a local historic site in my town. While there I was treated to a story about a Civil War sharp shooter’s rifle that would almost defy belief. He claimed his rifle, which was a replica but one of the last to be made with some of the original factory dies, was routinely used by the Confederacy to obtain kills at ranges of 1,500 yards. In fact, he said one kill had been documented at 2,000 yards! The rifle was a Whitworth and had a hexagonal bore with a 1 in 20 pitch. The bullet, often called a ‘bolt’ for obvious reasons, was also hexagonal and had a clear twist in the sides to match the twist of the barrel. The back end of the bullet had a concave bevel to provide a gas seal. It was quite a remarkable weapon. Here is an article I found about this rifle on the internet:

    Sir Joseph Whitworth of England created a rifle with a twisted hexagonal bore and then shaped bullets to match this bore. (1) He patented his hexagonal bore in 1854. (2) A Confederate weapon in the Civil War, when outfitted with a telescopic sight this firearm had an effective range of 1,500 yards. The twisted hexagonal bore imparted a steadiness of flight to its .45 caliber bullet, and made this rifle the favorite of Confederate sharpshooters.

    I wish I could find a picture of the bullet. I had heard there were guns made with this kind of rifling, but I had never seen one. That is some impressive performance for a blackpowder gun. I suppose it is no wonder there is a sniper school at Ft. Benning, near Columbus, Georgia.

  2. I found a drawing of the bullet in an article by Whitworth himself. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see if you could use modern technology to put a hexagonal bullet into a hexagonal barrel with a modern breach loading cartridge? I suppose the trick would be to make the whole cartidge hexagonal. The whole cartridge would have a twist equivalent to that of the rifling. That would be easy enough to do with caseless cartridges. Perhaps the past will meet the future in those?

  3. A hexagonal bullet might have higher drag – recall that the sides of the bullet may create turbulence and affect the airflow over the bullet as it is rotating. Recall that the airflow over the bullet is supersonic, so shockwaves would eminate all round the bullet. Aerodynamics is complex, so it could always do the contrary. It would be interesting to see an analysis! But I guess since the aerodynamics is so complex (due to the rotating and thus transitional aerodynamics) any analysis would be very expensive!

  4. The aerodynamics are not quite so complicated in this case because the bullet is rotating with the speed it is translating. Essentially it is like idling a propeller in the air. It has form drag, but no induced drag. One of the benefits of the hexagonal shape, however, is that it is somewhat less effected by cross winds. Have you seen those radio antennas that newer cars have that look like they have a wire wrapped around them? The hexagonal bullet would provide the same kind of reduced drag with regard to cross winds. Of course, an antenna is always in a cross wind, and that shape acts something like the dimples on a golf ball with regard to reducing drag.

  5. Ok, sometimes I forget to summarize. So the hexagonal shape would have little to no effect on the drag of the bullet as it travels down range, but would help it be less effected by cross winds.