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The Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History

A debate about counter-insurgency operations vs. anti-terror operations rages among military leaders and military thinkers. One school thinks the mission should focus on winning the population's hearts and minds, while the second focuses mainly on putting down the bad guys. Bing West, one of the prominent thinkers, is convinced the first approach worked well in Iraq but is a miserable failure in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Kyle doesn’t quite refute the benefit of winning over the people in Iraq, but he thinks a lot of the smart people are putting the cart before the horse:

You know how Ramadi was won?

We went in and killed all the bad people we could find.

When we started, the decent (or potentially decent) Iraqis didn’t fear the United States; they did fear the terrorists. The U.S. told them, “We’ll make it better for you.”

The terrorists said, “We’ll cut your head off.”

Who would you fear? Who would you listen to?

When we went into Ramadi, we told the terrorists, “We’ll cut your head off. We will do whatever we have to and eliminate you.”

Not only did we get the terrorists’ attention — we got everyone’s attention. We showed we were the force to be reckoned with.

That’s where the so-called Great Awakening came. It wasn’t from kissing up to the Iraqis. It was from kicking butt.

The tribal leaders saw that we were bad-asses, and they’d better get their act together, work together, and stop accommodating the insurgents. Force moved that battle. We killed the bad guys and brought the leaders to the peace table.

That is how the world works.

Finally, however, Kyle worked himself into the ground, having ignored and covered up his injuries like an athlete playing hurt. When he returned stateside, he found his marriage was on almost as shaky ground as his health and needed healing, too.

However, when the Navy shrinks examined him, they found out a peculiar thing. It wasn’t combat that bothered Chris Kyle and made his blood pressure rise — combat situations actually calmed him. It was having to sit by and watch bad people hurt good people that put his nerves into orbit.

He sums up his attitude:

There’s another question people ask a lot: Did it bother you killing so many people in Iraq?

I tell them, “No.”

And I mean it. The first time you shoot someone, you get a little nervous. You think, can I really shoot this guy? Is it really okay? But after you kill your enemy, you see it’s okay. You say, Great.

You do it again. And again. You do it so the enemy won’t kill you or your countrymen. You do it until there’s no one left for you to kill.

That’s what war is.

I loved what I did. I still do. If circumstances were different — if my family didn’t need me — I’d be back in a heartbeat. I’m not lying or exaggerating to say it was fun. I had the time of my life being a SEAL.

American Sniper is apt to stay in the news for awhile, thanks to Ventura’s recently filed defamation lawsuit against the author. Even with all of Kyle’s exploits, if he can actually “defame” the ex-pro wrestler and failed Minnesota governor, that could be his most amazing feat.