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The US military's top snipers just went head-to-head. Here's how it went down and the surprising results.

Ryan Pickrell

The finest snipers in the US military, as well as local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, have been battling it out this past week against teams from across the US and around the world in the annual International Sniper Competition.

The Army's 75th Ranger Regiment came in first, the Colorado Army National Guard took second, and Sweden's 17th Wing Air Force Rangers came in third.

Thirty sniper teams ran toward their equipment at the opening of the 18th annual International Sniper Competition on Oct. 15, 2018

Sniper teams from across the globe travelled to Fort Benning, Georgia to compete in the 2018 International Sniper Competition from Oct 14 - 16, 2018.

The purpose of this yearly competition is to identify the best sniper team from across a wide range of agencies and organisations, including the US military, international militaries, and local, state and federal law enforcement, the US Army said.

Teams must, according to the Army, complete "a gauntlet of rigorous physical, mental and endurance events that test the range of sniper skills that include, but are not limited to, long range marksmanship, observation, reconnaissance and reporting abilities, and abilities to move with stealth and concealment."

Snipers play a critical role in combat, with missions including "precision fires on enemy personnel and equipment, intelligence gathering, counter-sniper operations, infiltration and overwatch of [named areas of interest], occupation of and operations in support by fire positions, ballistic interdiction of IEDs, and disruption of enemy operations."

Source: US Army

The International Sniper Competition, while it is a contest, also focuses on interoperability.

"Working together in this venue is a great way for us to share ideas, build rapport and train our forces," Brig. Gen. David M. Hodne, the U.S. Army Infantry School commandant, said at the closing ceremony, "After all, the purpose of the International Sniper Competition is to improve our collective lethality."

Source: Fort Benning Public Affairs Office

Hodne noted that snipers are decidedly different from other soldiers. "There something special about a sniper," he explained.

"Snipers are disciplined, physically fit, and emotionally stable," Hodne added. "They know how to concentrate under enormous pressure, and under fire. They have good, common sense. They know how to read terrain and weather conditions. They are silent and stealthy experts in camouflage. They are alert. And they understand the importance of initiative."

Staff Sgts. Brandon Kelley and Jonathan Roque with the Army's 75th Ranger Regiment scored the most points during the multi-day competition.

"Some teams, this is their Super Bowl; this is what they train for," Kelley explained, "For us, this is an additional evaluation – where we are before we go overseas and do our job. And it’s treated as such."

"We take it as an additional training opportunity," Roque added. "We take full advantage of it."

US Army teams dominated the competition. One surprising result: the US Coast Guard's Special Missions Training Detachment edged out the US Marine Corps' Scout Sniper instructors.