A story by Alex Horton at The Washington Post details the Smile Platoon, a unit of Ukrainian snipers and sniper support personnel. Overlooked to a degree and underfunded, the Smile Platoon has turned to the commercial market to purchase, with their own salaries, rifles, optics, ammunition, and other equipment that is superior to what has been provided by their own military.
According to the article, snipercraft and long range precision shooting in Ukraine has grown by leaps and bounds over the last eight years:
The big bang of Ukrainian sniper units occurred after the 2014 invasion, when the muddy tangle of trench warfare in the east forced commanders to shed Soviet marksman manuals, catch up to modern technology and kill more accurately from farther away.
Their growing proficiency and professionalization backed by Western forces has swung a pendulum back at their adversaries, who often wield superior rifles and surveillance systems, snipers in the platoon said. They even absorb hallmarks of American warfighter culture from the soldiers who helped advise them. Black Rifle Coffee Co. mugs litter the living quarters, and at any given moment, a few of the snipers crowd around a smartphone, watching videos of gun influencers on Instagram.
With some freedom, motivation, and internet access it sounds like the Smile Platoon and snipers like them bucked the old Soviet ways and looked toward the cutting edge of long range shooting technology and technique.
From a Weatherby chassis rifle chambered in .338 to various other bolt guns and AR-10 platform rifles, it appears from the photo that the Smile Platoon has been able to acquire U.S.-made gun tech. Luth-AR stocks appear to be a popular choice. Can y’all identify any other brands and models of guns, optics, plate carriers, etc.?
Sounds like we need a more streamlined method to get soldiers in friendly countries the equipment they need, without forcing them to literally go through retail channels while spending multiple months worth of their own money.
Ammunition, at this point, sounds like a limiting factor for the Smile Platoon as the hunting-style ammunition provided by their military is insufficient for their purposes and they’ve been forced to purchase ammo elsewhere. When asked about the pending surge in Russian troop numbers, Smile Platoon’s “Medik” (his callsign) said, “I hope we’ll have enough bullets.”
Much more info in the Washington Post piece, which is a good read so check it out.