From Ash Hess:
The U.S. Army Squad Designated Marksman program is a source of much debate. Many are angry that this rifle fielded with a 1-6 optic. What those people fail to acknowledge is where the SDM really is in both doctrine and real world application.

The SDM is a Rifleman with an additional tasking of being the DM. He is employed by the Fire Team leader or Squad leader(ATP-3.21.8) This means he/she remains part of that fire team and must be capable of doing anything the Squad is tasked with doing, from trenches, enter and clear, to assault.

Thus, at the beginning of the SDMR, the optic choice was heavily debated. The result is an optic that allows the DM to engage targets from 0-600 meters with relative ease.

That’s part of the debate. Sniper trained SDMs are different from normal trained SDMs, and neither one want to meet the doctrinal concept.
The “program” should be a real course 2-3 weeks, immediately following OUSIT required for privates who are assigned to Light, Airborne or Stryker units.

Training the trainer does not work with SDM. You trained NCO’s, I trained NCO’s, MMTC is training NCOs and nothing has improved. By training the private, and all the privates that follow him, by the time that first private is a Squad leader, the entire squad would by SDM trained, improving the entire unit. As it is now, those NCO’s retain 60% of what they are taught, pass on 30% of that, and the private gets none of it. Then they task someone else with the role and handicap what they should be doing.

From Dan Shea:
The Dragunov. It was the doctrinal difference from US to Soviet thinking. The US, well, we want to hit a fly’s eye at 1000 meters with highly trained snipers we’ve invested heavily in. The Soviet theory was to take marginally trained people with reasonable skills and have them hit chest size at 600 meters. And as a bonus, a Dragunov in the hands of someone with natural skill honed in a better training environment, can shoot really, really well. Nothing like one of the Knight rifles of course…. but a Dragunov has a place well above an AK on a battlefield.

That bit, “…. theory was to take marginally trained people with reasonable skills and have them hit chest size at 600 meters” is telling.

This was the intent of U.S. Army doctrine. The old (around 2003) SDM qual as originally directed by the now-redacted FM 3-22.9 was supposed to be shot with a rack-grade M16A2 and M855 by personnel given a bit of additional training (which a fully-trained Rifleman arguably should already know…)

Table 2 of that SDM course allowed optics only if the Soldier’s unit had them available. If not, Table 2 was supposed to be shot with a base BZO (no wind 300 meter zero) and use hold overs and hold offs as needed.

Then everyone wanted to church it up and re-envision SDM into “sniper lite”… The quality of training behind it is has been all over the map. As Ash Hess wisely points out, to be fully useful this needs a formal course (possibly an Additional Skill Identifier) taught by vetted instructors rather than the Army norm of “telephone game“*** training, euphemistically known as “train the trainer”, which is too common with all small arms skill. The myth that “any NCO with the FM” (TC now, but most NCOs are still unaware of this, hence the problem) can teach small arms skill is one of the most detrimental training lies infesting the U.S. Army.

*** “The game has no winner: the entertainment comes from comparing the original and final messages. Intermediate messages may also be compared; some messages will become unrecognizable after only a few steps.” It would be funny if it weren’t such a tragic waste of taxpayer money and Soldier ability.