My Thoughts on American Sniper
A lot has been said about Chris’s life and the book/movie called American Sniper that go a long way trying to explain just what drives a modern American to enlist and go fight for his country in a war which was neither popular nor victorious. His sense of service to his country is a great example of what has sustained the United States of America since its very inception. Chris is just one of tens of thousands of citizens that signed up right after the Sept 11, 2001 attack on America and served with honor and distinction. He served four operational tours in Iraq during the absolute worst of the conflict. He directly supported the Marines in Fallujah and Ramadi and received 2 Silver Stars, 5 Bronze Stars and was wounded twice during some of the heaviest fighting of the entire war. He is credited with 160 kills confirmed and 255 unconfirmed. The enemy had a name for him, Shaitan Al-Ramadi, ‘the Devil of Ramadi’.
That being said, I’m not a big fan of former SEAL Team members writing books and making movies about their experiences during wartime; however, the one thing that separates this movie from all the others is the ability of Clint Eastwood to use the operational side of the war to show the human side of Chris. This film, just like most others on the subject of war, takes some ‘Tactical Liberties’ with the operational scenes, but it does not really detract from the overall impact of the film. The portrayal of Chris as an operational sniper during a conflict that incurred many civilian casualties on all sides is both disturbing and real. The truth of the matter is close-quarter urban combat is very dirty, bloody business and results in a very high casualty rate for the amount of actual ground being fought over. The scenes in which the ‘Butcher’ was shown torturing a young child in front of his father was very true to life and again an absolute portrayal of a modern day ‘Savage’. To his credit, Clint Eastwood did a masterful job of showing the very best of Chris during some of the most horrific things an Operator can experience.
The human side of Chris is the real casualty of this film, and Eastwood’s ability to show the viewing audience the actual emotional toll this kind of combat takes on a professional war-fighter is extremely well done. Near the end of Chris’s fourth tour you can see how combat and time in country is wearing away at his very soul. This is a part of war that many operators, soldiers, and/or marines experience during prolonged combat, and these individuals have an extremely hard time admitting it has changed them as a human being. This, I believe, is the real crux of PTSD and all the issues that come with it.
Last but not least, I would like to address the folks who have said some very disparaging remarks about Chris, and in particular, this film. To the Michael Moores, Seth Rogans and Bill Mahers of the world, unless you have served in some or any capacity for this country, you have absolutely no idea what Chris experienced or went through as a Frogman, husband and father. I will not quote Col. Jessup from A Few Good Men, but you get my thoughts exactly…
And now for Jesse Ventura: How or why you thought that suing Chris’s estate because of an altercation at McPee’s was a good idea is completely beyond me. Expressing your newly found leftist opinions on the war in front of active duty Team guys that just returned from the ‘Sandbox’ is never a great idea, but trying it at age 60 plus is just plain ignorant. The sad fact is, bringing a lawsuit against Chris’s estate as a feeble attempt to save your quickly evaporating reputation might be taking a potential education away from Chris’s children and that will never go over well with SEAL Team members, active or retired.