First Time a Woman Graduates from the Army Sniper Course


Elizabeth Boyle, Staff

In December 2020, a woman enlisted in the Montana Army National Guard. S and she is now the first woman to complete the United States Army’s Elite Sniper School. This woman, who was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia for her initial military training called One Station Unit Training ( or OSUT), does not wish to be publicly identified. Based on her performance at OSUT, course she was recommended for the sniper school by her superior. 

            She completed the seven-week sniper course, also at Fort Benning. In order to enter the sniper school, a soldier must be on active duty or in the National Guard or Reserves. A soldier must volunteer to begin school and have a letter of recommendation from his or her commander.     According to the U.S. Army, Fort Benning, and the Maneuver Center of Excellence, the sniper course was created to, “educate snipers to be adaptive soldiers, critical and& creative thinkers, armed with the technical, tactical, and logistical skills necessary to serve successfully at the sniper team level [and] prepare snipers with a principal understanding of team duties and responsibility.” The course trains a soldier in advanced camouflage, target detection, intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB), relevant reporting procedures, sniper tactics, advanced marksmanship, moving targets in the light and in the dark, battlefield awareness, and complex engagements. After a soldier is trained in these areas, he or she must pass various tests using simulated real-life events in order to pass the course. After her success in the sniper course, her OSUT company commander, Joshua O’Neill, said, “We’re all incredibly proud of her. There wasn’t a doubt in our minds that she would succeed.”

            One of the most famous female snipers was Lyudmila Pavlivhenko from Ukraine. She served in the Soviet Army during World War II. After the war, she was invited to the U.S. by Eleanor Roosevelt, said Smithsonian Magazine in 2013. She was invited to discuss her combat experience while on a tour of the country.

            In the U.S., the first women sniper, Senior Airman Jennifer Weitekamp, a member of the Illinois Air National Guard, graduated from the National Guard’s sniper school’s Counter-Sniper Course for Air Guard Security Force in April 2001. At that time this was the only sniper school open to women in the U.S. military. Weitekamp said, “they asked for volunteers for this training program, and I really wanted to go, so I volunteered.” Weitekamp understood the doors she opened for other women at the time. She explained, “I was the first woman to go through, it was because of that and the opportunities it would open up for future women that helped me get through the training and kept me motivated.”

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