Reconnaissance Training Company


Reconnaissance Training Company

Advanced Infantry Training Battalion

Camp Pendleton, CA
Reconnaissance Training Company

Major T. A. Freeburg                                    1stSgt J. A. Rossman

Commanding Officer                                    First Sergeant

Reconnaissance Training Company           Reconnaissance Training Company                                                        

WELCOME- The Reconnaissance Training Company (RTC) has the honor of hosting some of the military's most demanding training as it strives to produce Reconnaissance Men and Scout Snipers.  The training that students undergo while attending any of our courses is mentally and physically challenging by design.  To be successful as a Reconnaissance Marine or Scout Sniper on the battlefield, it requires intellect, strength, endurance, skill and team work.  As such, we're looking for individuals who possess the drive, discipline, maturity and courage to rise to the challenge and fill the ranks of these storied warrior communities.  If successful, your remaining journey will increase in difficulty, but the sacrifices you will make and the hard work you will put forth will result in immeasurable reward.  If you think you have what it takes to become a member of our team, please review the prerequisites below and then contact us to answer any questions you may have (760) 725-6824 RTC SNCOIC /Operations Chief.  

About Scout Snipers History of Marine Scout Snipers RTC Label RTC Label RTC Label RTC Label RTC Label
About Scout Snipers History of Marine Scout Snipers RTC Label RTC Label RTC Label RTC Label RTC Label

ABOUT SCOUT SNIPERS- Scout Sniper School serves to provide Marines and other services with Scout Sniper training in preparation for duty as a Scout Sniper within a Scout Sniper platoon of an infantry battalion, reconnaissance units.  The scout sniper is a Marine highly skilled in fieldcraft and marksmanship who delivers long range precision fire on selected targets from concealed positions in support of combat operations.  The primary mission of a scout sniper in combat is to support combat operations by providing precision fires on selected targets from concealed positions. The scout sniper also has a secondary mission of gathering information for intelligence purposes and controlling supporting arms.  Scout Snipers are task organized in the infantry battalions under the S-2 section, headquarters and service (H&S) company and also within the teams of reconnaissance units supporting MAGTF operations.


The word "sniper" originated in the eighteenth century during the time when the British Army was operating throughout India. The snipe was a favorite game bird of hunters in this area. The bird is small and easily frightened, so a successful snipe hunter had to be an expert shot and utilize a stealthy approach. The term "sniper" came to signify a person who possessed all the skills of a successful snipe hunter.


Both sides had sniper-type rifles with the vast majority being privately owned at the beginning of the war. A Union Colonel, Hiram Berdan, foresaw the need for highly-skilled sharpshooters on the battlefield. Col Berdan gained approval from the War Department to form a two-regiment brigade. This brigade, officially titled the 1st United States Sharpshooters, became better known as “Berdan's Sharpshooters.” Armed mainly with the superior Sharp's .52 caliber (cal) rifle, the sharpshooter's mission was to operate on the skirmish line to find the enemy and then neutralize his skirmishers. These two regiments also proved highly effective in repelling Confederate assaults with their high rate of accurate fire.  Berdan, an accomplished shooter, decreed that no man could join his unit without 380 placing 10 consecutive shots in a five-inch group from 300 yards.


The battlefields of World War I were the genesis of the modern sniper tactics and techniques that are commonly used today. When the stalemate of trench warfare stymied fighting, the need for both men with the required skills and weapons for precision shooting increased. Instead of shooting at man-sized targets, the targets were usually only a head peering over a parapet. There was also an increased need for scoped rifles to fire longer ranges and under conditions of reduced visibility.  Both sides discovered that well-prepared, carefully camouflaged positions established in open terrain and within friendly lines were best for sniping and observation purposes.  Ghillie suits were obtained from Scottish gamekeepers and were first used by the British in their sniper units. The British developed the two-man team concept first, while many German snipers preferred to operate alone. Americans selected as snipers began to attend the British Sniping, Scouting, and Observation schools as a way of improving their skills; however, the war ended before their employment could have an effect and again organized sniper units virtually ceased to exist within most military forces.


The British took the lead when snipers were requested by units fighting in France.  The Russians also used snipers to a great extent. One of the more famous duels of the war occurred between Russian sniper, Vassiliy Zeitsev, and a German sniper, reportedly named either Heinz Thorvald or Erwin Konig, during the battle of Stalingrad in late 1942.  LtCol Merritt Edson of the famed Edson’s Marine Raiders also used snipers. In early 1942 Marine Private Edgar Shepard was chosen to be trained as a sniper due to his superior rifle range scores. He attended a week-long sniper course with M1903 rifles using 8x Unertl scopes at Quantico.  Later that same year, the US Army and the US Marine Corps developed sniper schools of varying quality and effectiveness. The Marine Corps started sniper schools at Camp Elliot, San Diego, CA; Camp Lejeune; and Marine Corps Base Quantico using the techniques and knowledge gained by the British during World War I.  Marine snipers were used sparingly during the early campaigns in the Pacific, such as Guadalcanal and Tarawa; however, they were used extensively on Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  1stLt William Hawkins, a scout sniper, posthumously earned the Medal of Honor during the assault of Tarawa (Betio). There were also a number of Silver Stars awarded to his 34 man strong scout sniper platoon (SSP) to Marines such as Sgt Robert Nelson. The platoon suffered approximately 50 percent casualties.


After successfully prosecuting World War II, the US military downsized substantially. Again, no formal sniper programs survived and when the North Koreans crossed the border into South Korea, the US was woefully unprepared and a massive mobilization followed.   Marine and Army snipers eventually proved deadly, especially during the static defense period of the war. Moreover, improvements in sniper tactical mission planning were demonstrated in the Korean War. After being dropped off by patrols, snipers were effective at gathering information as well as harassing and delaying the enemy with precision marksmanship.


After the Korean War, the Marine scout sniper program was again discontinued.  Several “On the job” schools were established throughout Vietnam, such as the one established in 1966 by then Captain Edward J. Land Jr. on Hill 55. Many scout snipers such as Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock received their training while on real combat missions. Successful employment of scout snipers by unit commanders in Vietnam increased demand for scout sniper support beyond what could be provided by various “in country sniper schools”. As a result, a scout sniper school was established at Camp Pendleton, California where scout snipers such as Chuck Mawhinney received their initial training as scout snipers prior to going to Vietnam.  During this period, scout snipers gained substantial operational experience, recorded their observations, and scout sniper employment doctrine was born.  In January 1967 a scout sniper school was established at Camp Pendleton. However, unlike the past, when sniper training had been discarded during peace time, Headquarters, Marine Corps (HQMC) stood up its first, permanent formal school at Quantico in 1977. Also, HQMC established a secondary military occupational specialty (MOS) designator of 8541 for scout snipers and included scout snipers within the infantry battalion table of organization (T/O).  Despite having doctrine and formal structure, one training and education obstacle that continued to present a problem was a tendency for snipers to be improperly employed by the organizations they were sent to support. Many organizations didn’t know how to properly employ scout snipers. Examples of scout snipers not being properly employed included assigning scout snipers as bodyguards, rifle company point men, and other assorted jobs that interfered with their primary duties.


Scout snipers were used across the range of military operations across the globe. Marine scout snipers operated in Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa, the Philippines, and many other locations. Many creative applications of scout sniper employment techniques were developed during these operations, but these applications were based on enduring principles that have not changed much since WWI. Due to the length of the war and operations in such varying geographical areas, many of the capability development advancements were made in areas of scout sniper organization, employment, and equipment. Scout snipers were found to be particularly useful in supporting counter-insurgency efforts as well as providing support for attacks and raids. In negotiations during the battle of Fallujah,

the insurgent leaders requested that Marine scout snipers be removed from their positions – this is the second time in recent history (Beirut was the other time) that the enemy requested the removal of snipers from the battlespace.

The Marine Corps Scout Sniper Program continues to grow and evolve.  The modern Marine Corps scout sniper is a Marine who has been carefully screened, selected and has undergone comprehensive training and shown mastery in both basic and advanced infantry skills and marksmanship techniques.  Currently, scout snipers are trained by Scout Sniper Instructor School, Weapons Training Battalion (WTBn) in Quantico, VA; scout sniper schools located at the School of Infantry (SOI)– East and West; and MCB Kaneohe Bay, HI, (which is a detachment of SOI -West). All four schools are under Training Command; Training & Education Command; Marine Corps Combat Development Command; Quantico, VA.

A 0317 MOS trained Marine may continue his education with the completion of the Scout Sniper Team Leader Course (SSTLC), which provides more training on scout sniper field skills, sniper marksmanship, and employment of scout sniper teams.  The Scout Sniper Unit Leaders Course (SSULC) is designed to teach scout sniper employment to platoon commanders, platoon sergeants and chief scout snipers.  School, WTBn in Quantico. The SSULC emphasizes tactical employment, mission planning/orders process, and support considerations necessary for the effective use of scout sniper teams and SSPs in offensive and defensive scenarios across the range of military operations. Additionally, SSULC graduates are taught how to select and train infantry Marines to fill the roles as scout snipers prior to and after they attend the formal SSBC.  Both courses are taught at Quantico, VA.


-Marines go through a recruitment, assessment and selection process at their parent unit in order to join the Scout Sniper Platoon.  It is highly recommended that they are prepared prior to attending Scout Sniper School.

-Marines' receive Temporary Additional Duty orders to attend the Scout Sniper Course must have a Command Screening Checklist statement certifying the Marine meets the requirements and signed by the battalion commander.

-Minimum GT score of 100.

-Upon arrival the students will conduct a physical fitness test. In order to be joined into the course, the Marine must achieve a first class PFT (225) unadjusted for age.

-20/20 vision or correctable to 20/20.

-Current Secret Clearance or eligible to obtain one.

-Expert rifle qualification

-Volunteer to attend Scout Sniper Course.

-Must be a Lance Corporal (E-3) through Sergeants (E-5) with the 03 (infantry) MOS.  International students, SNCOs, and Officers MOS 0203 or 03XX are waiverable based on space availability. The applicant must be designated or serving in a sniper billet within the operating forces.

-Sergeants and above must have a TD fitness report.

-Medically qualified for duty with no recurring injuries or problems.

-No court martial or NJP in the last six months.

-Twenty-four months remaining in the Marine Corps and/or deploying with his unit upon course completion date. Reservists will be available for the unit's next scheduled deployment.

-No existing family or financial problems that would preclude the Marine from attending the course.

Recommended but not required:

MCI or distance learning equivalent requirements:

a. MCI #0381 Land Navigation.

b. MCI #0335 Infantry Patrolling.

c. MCI #0861 Basic Forward Observer Procedures.

d. MCI #03.32 Reconnaissance Marine.

e. Attended Sniper platoon training.

f. Completed an infantry training cycle or deployment.

g. Swim qualification of class 2 or higher for MEU SOC follow-on Sniper training


Phase I: Field Skills & Known Distance Marksmanship: 

This phase provides the students with knowledge and skills associated with individual tasks that are essential to the operation in a sniper team.  The student receives classes and practical application in the areas of advanced land navigation, functional fitness, and fundamentals of marksmanship, ballistics, cold bore, range cards, range estimation, and the duties of a scout sniper observer.  During this phase they qualify at known distances with the M40 series Sniper Rifle and Semi-Automatic Sniper System (SASS), conduct hides and surveillance practical application, performance examinations.  During this phase they receive mission planning and orders writing classes.

Phase II: Stalking & Unknown Distance Marksmanship: 

The purpose of Phase II is to provide the students with knowledge and skills associated with individual movement and unknown distance target engagement.  They receive training on camouflaging sniper equipment, final firing positions and individual movement and methods of engaging targets at various ranges.  The end state of this phase is to have the students demonstrate their mastery of individual movement over a distance of 1,000 meters and engaged targets at unknown distances out to 800 meters while wearing body armor.  Marines will also receive training on supporting arms; conduct simulated and live fire mortar performance examination.

Phase III: Mission Planning/Employment: 

The purpose of Phase III is to provide the students with knowledge and skills associated with the planning of scout sniper missions and employment considerations.  The Students will receive instructions designed to teach and mentor students in the individual duties and responsibilities of each billet within a scout sniper team and advising the employment of their team.  This phase will culminate with a performance evaluation aboard Camp Pendleton to evaluate the students' abilities to successfully plan, coordinate and execute their assigned mission.


-Report NLT 0700 on the report day of the course.

-SRB / OQR with current copy BIR / BTR

-Copy of TD report or PRO / CON in SRB

-TD Fitness report

-Medical and Dental records

-Original Orders

-Screening Checklist (Completed and signed by 1stSgt, Co Cmdr and BnCmdr)

-Common Gear List (All gear on hand and signed by PltCmdr/PltSgt and Marine attending)

-SOI West Armory will also provide weapons and optics with SL-3 components.




1-15                12-JAN-15         13-JAN-15                    31-MAR-15         30

2-15                28-APR-15         29-APR-15                   21-JUL-15           30

3-15                12-AUG-15         13-AUG-15                  03-NOV-15          30





















PO BOX 555081




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