With 160 confirmed kills, Chris Kyle was the deadliest sniper in US military history — and is the subject of a buzzed-about new film, “American Sniper,” starring Bradley Cooper as Kyle and directed by Clint Eastwood. In his new book, “Modern American Snipers,” author Chris Martin tells the history of these special warriors and how technology and skill produced a soldier who could shoot someone from a mile away. In this excerpt, he explains Kyle’s success — and reveals the one person who got the best of him.
(by Chris Martin, NEW YORK POST) -- Word of Chris Kyle’s accomplishments had just started filtering through the usual SEAL channels, but his status as an emerging historical figure was still largely unknown. However, one SEAL officer was keenly aware of what the big Texan had been up to.
The last time Lt. Larry Yatch had seen Kyle, he was just another new guy on his first deployment. He wasn’t “the Legend” at that point. If anything, he had been rather unremarkable, although that was considered a positive in itself because it meant he hadn’t done anything terribly boneheaded to draw attention to himself as new guys tend to do.
Now Yatch noticed Kyle’s mounting success in Iraq. What he observed astonished him.
“I spent a lot of time reading the intel traffic,” the SEAL officer said. “I remember very vividly reading all of those after-action reports and just being amazed.”
The macabre statistics alone were undeniable. “You’d read that he’d had 19 confirmed kills in a 24-hour period. It was almost unbelievable.”
Real-life Jason Bourne
When it came time to select an all-star team of operators for advanced training, Yatch was quick to recruit Kyle.
In 2005, Kyle, then 31, was sent to New Orleans, where he learned basic electronics and the finer points of building and utilizing covert camera systems. He was taught how to conduct countersurveillance, both on foot and in vehicles, along with surreptitious entry — picking locks and “borrowing” other people’s cars when necessary (for example, to successfully complete his training).
His training was now loosely akin to what the real-world realization of the Hollywood fantasy that is James Bond or Jason Bourne might be — well, with a thick Texas drawl anyway.
Despite the new assortment of skills, Kyle’s focus immediately snapped back into sniper mode when he redeployed in 2006. And he was presented with what can only be described as a target-rich environment in the city of Ramadi.
The capital of Anbar Province and home to a half-million residents, Ramadi replaced Fallujah as the most dangerous city on the planet in ’05 and ’06. This was no coincidence — following the dedicated campaign to rip Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s forces from Fallujah, al Qaeda in Iraq regrouped, picked up shop, and reestablished their business of dealing out widespread slaughter from a new central location.
Ramadi now stood as the destination point for foreign jihadists who flooded into the nation, driven by a confused notion of achieving paradise by bringing about hell.
In April 2006, Zarqawi’s men launched multiple simultaneous attacks in the city, setting about the conditions for another showdown.
Contrary to the unrestrained leveling of Fallujah, a combined American-Iraqi force of nearly 8,000 soldiers planned a more deliberate attack on Ramadi. The brunt of the fire and manpower would be delivered by conventional Marine and big Army forces, while mobile SEAL sniper elements would provide precision fire and overwatch throughout.