A sniper team from the French Foreign Legion’s 13th Demi-Brigade (13e DBLE) won the 2019 European Best Sniper Team Competition. This year’s version of the annual competition was hosted by Germany and Latvia at the camp of the 7th Army Training Command in Grafenwoehr, Bavaria.
In total, sniper teams from 16 NATO allies and partners participated—(Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.
Similar to other sniper competitions, such as the International Special Operations Sniper Competition, each country could send multiple teams. The U.S. was represented by three teams. One came from the hosting 7th Army Training Command’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment, another from the 173rd Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), and the last from the Joint Multinational Readiness Center.
The participant sniper teams were tested in a wide gamut of soldiering and sharpshooting tasks. Stretched over 30 events, the sniper teams were tested in their marksmanship capabilities, communication efficiency, physical endurance, and mental stamina. Sniper teams, for example, had to complete a 12-mile ruck march during a record high heat day, land navigation through dense woodland, and cold shooting against moving targets on a river. Cold shooting is a term that means shooting at a target of unknown distance without firing any warming up shots.
“It’s definitely a lot more complicated than just lying down and shooting targets,” said Specialist Alex Stoyonovich from the 173rd Brigade Combat Team. “This is by far the best training we could possibly have.”
According to U.S. Army Europe, the European Best Sniper Team Competition’s goal is to develop a venue where NATO allies can project their capabilities, foster their partnership, enhance their interoperability, improve their professionalism, and enhance esprit de corps in the Alliance. Sniper teams for the Czech Republic, Germany, Latvia, and Sweden filled the top five. Last year, a team from the Swedish Air Force won the competition.
The 13e DBLE is comprised of five light infantry companies, a combat support company—which includes a sapper platoon and sniper platoon—a headquarters and logistics company, and a reserve company. The unit totals an approximate 1,300 legionnaires. In 2017, the 13e DBLE became the first unit in the French army to adopt the HK 416 F, which has become the French army’s new battle rifle replacing the venerable FAMAS.
The French Foreign Legion has been deployed multiple times to Afghanistan and is also active in the sub-Saharan countries of Africa.