Designated Defensive Marksman (DDM) is a term that came out of security contractor operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. While the prerequisite for DDMs was 3-4 years of sniper training and experience (military or law enforcement), it would not have been appropriate to refer to them as snipers. Where a sniper has an offensive capability, a DDM’s mission is purely defensive in nature.
Observation and Reporting are critical tasks for a DDM
The military has also made use of Designated Marksmen when the deep thinkers in the Pentagon realized that there was a role for marksmen in each platoon and company, and there were insufficient numbers of trained snipers to go around. They also came to realize that, with the nature of open warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, infantry units needed a longer range capability. Where the iron sighted M16s and M4s could be considered 300-400 yard rifles, the scoped M14s and SR25 .308s could reach out to 600-800 yards.
From a training perspective, where it takes a couple of months to train a military sniper, a military command could identify qualified individuals who possessed above average shooting skills and provide them with a couple of weeks of advanced training. They were then equipped with a variety of designated marksmen rifles (DMR) ranging from rejuvenated M14/M1As to SR25 (.308 Win) AR10 platforms.
Enhanced M14 Designated Marksman Rifle
The security contractors working in the sand box also saw a need for a longer range, harder hitting capability. DDMs are often deployed onto the roofs of key locations, embassies, contractor housing, and in overwatch covering checkpoints and entries to key installations
British Snipers in an Overwatch Position
Civilian contractor DDMs are also being deployed on vessels traveling through pirate infested waters off East Africa and Somalia