Sniper Training at Little Rock Stadium; Neglects to Inform Public

10/30/13. Sniper Training at Stadium; Neglects to Inform Public. Ben Marquis,

“Residents of midtown Little Rock, Arkansas had their peaceful Tuesday morning and afternoon interrupted with the sounds of war. The echoes of rifle fire and explosions began shortly after 11 AM and continued on for several hours.  As people exited their homes, with some even venturing toward the sounds to investigate, it became clear that the Little Rock Police Department, in conjunction with numerous other agencies and individuals, were conducting live fire training exercises at the centrally located War Memorial Stadium. 

No press release from the Police Department was released warning residents what could be expected, and nothing was said by local news reports.

While searching fruitlessly on Google for some time for local news about the events at the stadium, I came upon the stadium’s schedule

It listed SWAT training for October 29-31, 2013.  But there was no description.  Further searching on the web led me to the website of Craft International, a consulting and training service provider made up of former Special Forces Operators, that caters to military and law enforcement.  A look at their schedule of training events revealed that they were teaching a course called Police Sniper Response to a Public Venue, in conjunction with the Texas Tactical Police Officers Association.

The Police Sniper Response to a Public Venue is a three day course that covers such topics as live fire training in the stadium, high angle fire techniques, sniper standards, firing platforms, venue overwatch planning and sectorization, as well as response drills and live fire missions.

The course is only offered to military and law enforcement snipers that have already completed certain prerequisite training.  Students in the class pay $700 and bring their own rifle and 400 rounds of duty ammo.  The course is taught by Mark Lang and Kelly Canterbury, both snipers with Dallas SWAT.

The objective of the course is to provide high level training to certain snipers and provide them with information that they can then share with their respective units.  Students will learn how to effectively plan overwatch of a large public venue, like a stadium, in order to help protect or respond to some sort of domestic or foreign terror attack.

They will learn how to manage and coordinate assault team members into an operation.  Some of the training is conducted in the classroom, learning theory, while the majority deals with marksmanship, setting up proper firing positions, and responding to threats, via armored vehicles or helicopters.

While there is no doubt that this training is useful, it is extremely disheartening that little or no notice was given to the general public that this event was going to take place.  Little old ladies walking their dogs were frightened.  People were standing on the street, looking in the general direction of the stadium, wondering if something serious was going down.  There were people freaking out on Facebook, and 911 was deluged with calls.

Perhaps the most disturbing thing about this three-day event is the location of the stadium.  On its south side stands the Little Rock Zoo, which is often frequented during the day by families with young children and school fieldtrips.  To the north of the stadium is residential neighborhoods.

On the west and east sides of the stadium are two large medical complexes, St. Vincent’s Hospital and UAMS.  Alongside the UAMS campus stands the VA hospital.  It is a safe assumption that veteran patients suffering from PTSD were none too thrilled to hear continuous gunfire and grenade explosions throughout the day.

It is also a safe bet that sounds of a warzone are not conducive to the necessary rest and healing of surgery and treatment patients at either major hospital, or for the studying done by the many medical students.

The training exercises are scheduled to continue for the next couple days.  It is hoped that the police would find the time or show the concern for the public to inform them what is going on.  It would be nice if the local news stations would show up and do some stories, explaining to the people of their city why it sounds like a war is going on.  I don’t think I will hold my breath though.”

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