Bounty Hunter 4/3
By Jason Delgado with Chris Martin
Hardcover in dustjacket, 352 pages
Published by St. Martin’s Press October 2017
Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
Each Marine Battalion has a Scout Sniper Platoon which reports to the battalion’s Intelligence Officer. The platoon consists of approximately twenty Marines who form two man teams. Becoming a sniper is considered to be stepping up to an elite formation, volunteers are selected from with the battalion. If a Marine is selected for the sniper platoon, he is taught the fine art of long-range marksmanship and concealment by the more senior members of the platoon and is transformed into a Professionally Instructed Gunman, or PIG. The best PIGs are selected to attend the USMC Scout Sniper Basic Course, if they graduate they become HOGs – Hunters Of Gunmen.
Bounty Hunter 4/3 is Jason Delgado’s story. He begins as a street kid growing up in the Bronx who joined the Marines. He describes his progression from Boot Camp to an infantry battalion, and from there his selection into the sniper platoon. His training within the platoon during a deployment to Okinawa prepared him for a slot at the Scout Sniper Basic Course, which he passed. This narrative is the first third of the book.
Operation Desert Storm saw the Marines employ snipers in support of the thrust into Baghdad and the destruction of the Iraqi Army. Delgado and the other snipers provided support and overwatch to their battalion during the assault through Iraq. This was a conventional mechanized assault against an organized army.
Delgado’s second deployment to Iraq was to a small city on the Iraqi/Syrian border named Husaybah. By this time the conflict in Iraq has devolved into an insurgency, with Jihadis infiltrating in from Syria. This deployment is in marked contrast to Operation Desert Storm, a static occupation with guerrillas amongst the civilian population and all the complexities and rules of engagement which go along with that.
The final portion of the book concerns Delgado’s return to the United States and duty at Marine Special Operations Training Group, where he was a sniper instructor. The Marines had kept their Force Recon out of the overall Special Operation Command, preferring to keep them under direct Marine control. MARSOC was founded in 2005, dipping a Marine toe into SOC. Delgado was ideally positioned the help train and equip that force.
This is a very “hands on” and personalized account of sniper’s role in Iraq in both conventional and counter-insurgency roles. It was interesting to hear the descriptions of sniper training and employment. I was surprised at the physical requirements of the Scout Sniper Basic Course, and that they had their own version of Hell Week and subsequent 60% attrition rate. The similarities and differences between the two deployments are a good indication of the changes in the conflict in Iraq itself – fighting an army is not the same as fighting an insurgency. This is good insight into one Marine’s journey through life and war, a recommended read.