Presentation of 2013 Hathcock Award to: MSG Jim Smith.
Jim Smith began his military career in the US Army 2ND Ranger Battalion, and served both stateside and abroad in challenging NATO assignments. He served as a Long Range Reconnaissance Soldier, a mountaineering instructor, and instructed at the NATO International Long Range Patrol School. He later earned a spot in Army Special Operations and served as an assaulter and sniper for several years.
Early in his special operations career, Jim was selected to attend the special operations sniper course, and this turned out to be a watershed event in his career and life. Jim trained as a sniper and worked to perfect his skills, which would later become one of the deciding factors in the outcome of a significant battle and the lives of the men involved. During his career, Jim was involved in many combat operations, most notably the Battle of the Black Sea; known to many as “Blackhawk Down.”
During this incident while serving as primary aerial sniper on board Super Six One, his job was to provide over watch and lethal fires interdiction in support of the Task Force Ranger Mission on October 3rd, 199s in Mogadishu, Somalia. Well into the battle, Super Six One was shot down by an RPG and crashed into a hostile section of the city. Jim was wounded, but still secured and defended the crash site until it could be reinforced. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star for his actions in this incident.
After his Special Operations career, Jim served in many challenging assignments including the Asymmetric Warfare Group where he was instrumental in developing a training plan that revolved around a combat carbine course, which actually had the effect of changing the way the Army trains its soldiers. The instant effect was training that made the soldiers more creative while arriving at the correct solutions during stress based training that inoculates them for combat. The true impact of this efficient, reality based combat training is now being felt at all training levels throughout the Army, and will continue to produce the most survivable, effective soldiers possible for many years to come.
After retiring, Jim started Spartan Tactical, and dedicated his efforts to training the military and law enforcement in both the United States and select foreign countries. He is heavily involved in training counter-terror operators, law enforcement, and military forces in other countries as well as the United States, passing on the hard learned lessons of his career as a counter-terror operator in U.S. Army Special Operations. A partial list of these countries includes Israel, Jordan, Greece, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic.
Jim was also called upon to create a firearms training program for the Air Marshall’s Service subsequent to 9/11 and went on to supervise that program afterwards… he was also instrumental in creating a firearms program for Immigration Customs Enforcement, which is still in use today. Jim has trained SWAT teams from some of the larger municipalities in Texas and is heavily involved with the Texas Tactical Peace Officers Association. A short list of the agencies Jim has trained includes SWAT officers from Irvine, CA, San Diego, CA, Los Angeles, CA, FBI SWAT Teams from NJ and NY, SWAT officers from NYC, Austin and Dallas PD, and several agencies in Oregon and Washington. His contribution to American Law Enforcement is daunting, and the legacy effects of his efforts will be seen for years to come.
Jim regularly trains Special Operations forces from both the Army and Marine Corps, both in sniping skills and combat marksmanship; to include MARSOC, 5th and 19th Special Forces Groups, although most of his focus is the conventional force. Jim has previously trained battalion sized units from the 75th Ranger Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, 101st Airborne Division, and others. His program was so well received by the 82nd he ended up spending a year at Fort Bragg training all the battalions in the Division, at the request of General Petraeus, the Division Commander at the time.
He is currently heavily involved in pre-deployment sniper and combat marksmanship training for the 36th Infantry Division of the Texas Army National Guard. In fact, the pre-deployment training he has done for the 36th Division since 2009 has been so successful, the program is now poised to go statewide, with every deploying Texas Unit receiving Spartan Tactical training before going to theater. This will ultimately affect 20,000 soldiers in the state of Texas alone.
Jim Smith has also significantly impacted the industry through his work with Leupold and Stevens. As a consultant Jim took full advantage of the opportunity to contribute to the design of cutting edge optics and reticles that are currently being used out on the sharp edge of U.S. military operations in both theatres, as well as domestic law enforcement tactical operations in the United States. Jim has been involved from the conceptual phase of a project to test and evaluation and placement of these optics for our military and enforcement. Jim leverages his extensive background and experiences as a Special Operations combat sniper to provide relevant input into the research, design, and manufacturing process, resulting in the most efficient, intuitive optics ever made available to the modern warrior. Several current Leupold tactical offerings benefit from his knowledge and experience.
MSG Jim Smith’s past service, willingness and to continue significantly contribute to the success of our warriors worldwide, both in training and combat, qualify him to be this year’s Awardee of the Carlos Hathcock Award. (Submitted by MSG Russ Clagett)