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A young cowboy from Texas who joined the elite US Navy Seals became the most deadly sniper in American history. In a book published this month he provides an unusual insight into the psychology of a soldier who waits, watches and kills.
As US forces surged into Iraq in 2003, Chris Kyle was handed a sniper rifle and told to watch as his marine battalion entered an Iraqi town.
A crowd had come out to greet them. Through the scope he saw a woman, with a child close by, approaching his troops. She had a grenade ready to detonate in her hand.
"This was the first time I was going to have to kill someone. I didn't know whether I was going to be able to do it, man, woman or whatever," he says.
"You're running everything through your mind. This is a woman, first of all. Second of all, am I clear to do this, is this right, is it justified? And after I do this, am I going to be fried back home? Are the lawyers going to come after me saying, 'You killed a woman, you're going to prison'?"
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It's killing that is very distant but also very personal - I would even say intimate”
But he didn't have much time to debate these questions.
"She made the decision for me, it was either my fellow Americans die or I take her out."
He pulled the trigger.
Kyle remained in Iraq until 2009. According to official Pentagon figures, he killed 160 people, the most career sniper kills in the history of the US military. His own estimate is much higher, at 255 kills.
According to army intelligence, he was christened "The Devil" by Iraqi insurgents, who put a $20,000 (£13,000) bounty on his head.
Married with two children, he has now retired from the military and has published a book in which he claims to have no regrets, referring to the people he killed as "savages".
What causes trauma?
The US Department of Veterans defines three sources of war-related trauma: being at risk of death or injury, seeing others hurt or killed and having to kill or wound others. Snipers suffer less of the first but arguably more of the latter two.
"A sniper is exposed to less unknown danger, has better reach and sees more," says a former infantryman and spokesperson for the UK army. "They won't be exposed to as much trauma as a dismounted, normal-operative infantryman."
Originally posted by SaturnFX
What goes through the mind of a sniper....hmm
what -should- go through the mind of a sniper is
headshot? check. wait for the go, or take opportunity when it arises if its up to your discretion.
No use in thinking about the target..is it a woman? a child? a opera singer? a chef? no..the only thing is, is it a threat? if yes, then make it not a threat.
As far as how they should feel...well, its good to remember the situation, but feel nothing.
Good story btw.
Snipers..most deadly..etc. meh. I think sniping requires some good skill and steady nerves, but perhaps less than a front line bullet sprayer. They tuck away in a nice hidden spot and take out targets..not really worried about anyone firing back. Its a necessary task mind you, but frankly, if your going to give props to anyone in the thick of combat, it is the guy leading the charge as it were and kicking open doors verses some guy 300 yards away under a rock pegging unaware enemys.
Originally posted by Idonthaveabeard
Alternately, Snipers are alone and hunted. When found they are open to capture, imprisonment and torture.
Originally posted by olliemc84
reply to post by DerepentLEstranger
And what world do you live in? One that still has armies fight battles using lances and swords on horseback in suits of armor.
Originally posted by usmc0311
reply to post by DerepentLEstranger
So I guess your the kind of person who would let your fellow troops die while you stand by and watch. Now that is true Cowardice. Have you ever served in the Military? Have you ever had to make the tough calls? If not you have no right to be calling us cowards when you standby and do nothing.
Reguardless of the reason we are at war, when we are boots on the ground in a combat zone the only thing that matters is survival. Sometimes survival means making the tough call. If you have never had to put the crosshairs of a scope on someone at a far off distance and pull the trigger, than you most deffinitely don't understand the personal feel of it and therefore should not be commenting on the issue. The question was what goes on in the mind of a sniper, not what do you think of the men who fight the wars.