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Speaking With One Voice

This edition of the OSOK Apparel Co. blog is going to be a little different, and it tackles a somewhat fuzzy idea. Hopefully it resonates with you guys and inspires you in your endeavors within this community.

About two weeks ago, I got to go to a U2 concert here in Indianapolis. Unfortunately, for as big of a U2 fan as I am, it was only the second time I’d ever been able to see them live. In my opinion, whether you like them or not, it’s the best concert you’ll ever go to, and until you’ve heard “Bullet the Blue Sky” or “Where the Streets Have No Name” live, you haven’t lived.

At this point, you’re probably wondering what in the Sam Hell this has to do with long range shooting or the art of being a Sniper. Stand by, and I’ll get there.

U2 Concert in Indy

At this particular concert, the local newspaper had the crowd at 42,000 people. And if you’ve ever experienced a U2 concert, you know that all 42,000 people there spent the majority of the concert screaming every word to every song. As I was taking it all in, the thought that occurred to me was that having this many people screaming your message with one voice was a pretty damn powerful and an impressive feat in itself.

Here’s an abstract thought for you: what if we were able to apply that to the Sniper community? For as long as I’ve been around, we have generally had trouble getting people in higher echelons to hear our concerns and truly listen to our input. We struggle to get adequate training, resources, and above all, the freedom to do the job that we’ve been trained to do. At least some portion of the reason we struggle to get these things accomplished is that the people we talk to are receiving mixed messages from us. We are not conveying the same message.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I am not telling anyone to pitch a particular agenda or to regurgitate what I believe. The message that you carry to the people you talk with will inherently have differences from the message that I convey when I speak to someone. My point is this. We are known as “quiet professionals.” In order to achieve our goals, we first have to be the most professional ones in the room. NOT NEGOTIABLE. Our mission as Snipers is non-standard. We work in small groups with loose parameters using intelligence and stealth rather than overwhelming force and support to bring the fight to our enemy. We kill using deception and skill rather than numbers. Our fury is a calculated and surgical one that instills fear into our enemies. We are, by definition, unconventional in nature. In order to be taken seriously and trusted, we first have to appear and act like the professionals that we are.

In order to get missions, you have to look like the guy who can get the job done without fail. Having said that, I’m all for long hair and sideburns and the occasional “Fuck You” scary patch. But we have to temper our urge to be Vikings with the knowledge that we have to be able to justify how we present ourselves. The way we dress, carry ourselves and set-up our kit should exude a message to others that when it comes time to get in a gunfight, you will find no one more lethal in the world than us.

Now for the quiet part. I personally believe that the guy who talks the loudest and tells the most stories in the room is probably the guy who’s spilling the most lies. In my experience, the quiet guy who listens to other people and is not the first to brag is probably the guy you should fear the most.

But I also think that it’s time for us to start talking. Just a little.

There are few, if any courses in the military like the old Sniper Employment Leader’s Course that teach our junior commissioned officers how to properly employ Snipers. There is no readily available course that teaches our younger Snipers how to be Sniper Team and Section Leaders. We rely on word of mouth and the experiences of others to teach the next generation the ins and outs of our craft. Whether we’re trying to explain reading wind, field-craft, forecasting and laying on ammo, scheduling land, or training guys without a whole lot of time and resources. While we’re teaching these guys, whether they’re the junior guys in our sections or the officers who give us our missions, we’re praying that they have an open mind and actually listen.

We, as a community, need to start being more vocal about who we are, what we need, and what kind of havoc we can bring to the fight if we are afforded time to train, put rounds down range, and the ability to get continuing education in our field. If we keep our code of silence and not interacting with others around us who are not us, we will be doomed to stay in the shadows of limited use forever.

And that, outside of making and selling some badass shirts and hats, is what OSOK Apparel Co. is about. In as much as we are able, we seek to be one of the voices that tells the outside world what our guys are about. We want to talk about the guys we work with all the time who can do the operationally impossible with damn near nothing in the way of help. We want to point out to anyone who will listen that if we can get these guys resourced, i.e. a legitimate pre-sniper course, or the ability to attend more courses than just Army Sniper School, or the opportunity to cross-train with members of different services and operational tiers, then we can move mountains.

We hope you will join us in this. Whatever words you use, and to whomever you speak them, we hope that you will join the numbers of our community who are making it their passion to improve the community for those who come after us.

Kind of like 45,000 people singing the words to “Mysterious Ways” at once and at their top of their lungs……it’ll sound pretty damn good and people from miles around will hear us.

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