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Wednesday, 18 February 2015
The American Sniper You Didn't Hear About
By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News, 27/1/2015
One American sniper called Iraqi natives “savages,” compared them to American welfare recipients, and bragged about looting their homes after killing them. Another American sniper became so disgusted by what he had done that he started the first-ever antiwar blog, and is actively encouraging his fellow soldiers to use their First Amendment rights to speak out against what he calls an “illegal occupation” in Iraq. Guess which one had a blockbuster movie made about him, and which one got ignored?
Between February 2004 and February 2005, Garett Reppenhagen was a sniper in Iraq’s Diyala province, serving as a cavalry scout with the U.S. Army. It was his job to conceal himself near roadsides and kill anyone he saw planting IEDs. He was also ordered to wait in fields and target Iraqi insurgents pulling up in pickup trucks to launch mortars on American bases. While Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who killed over 160 people during his time in Iraq, relished in pulling the trigger and wrote “I only wish I had killed more” in his memoir, Reppenhagen became increasingly more remorseful after each kill.
“Every time I pulled the trigger, I had to really convince myself that I was saving a buddy of mine. And it got increasingly difficult,” Reppenhagen told an audience at Colorado College in May of 2011.
Reppenhagen came from a military family – his father was a Vietnam veteran, and his grandfather served in World War II. He enlisted in 2001 and was stationed in Vilseck, Germany, with the 2-63 Armored Battalion, 1st Infantry Division. Between 2002 and 2003, his division was stationed in Kosovo on a peacekeeping mission. After completing international interdiction training at the NATO Special Forces School in Steton, Germany, he was deployed to Iraq in 2004. During that time, Reppenhagen learned that most of the men in his division were serving simply because a recruiter had bullied them into joining to get out of a bad economic situation. One of his fellow soldiers from Los Angeles had joined the military to get away from the gangs in his neighborhood. Another man from Ohio joined because the factory in his rust belt town had shut down and jobs were scarce.
“It was just 2 months of basic training for a cavalry scout, and out we come,” Reppenhagen said. “They’re just like you. They were given a bad haircut and an M-16 in their hands and they’re scared shitless.”
As Zaid Jilani recently wrote, the film “American Sniper” uses clever editing to suggest that Iraq was somehow responsible for 9/11: In one scene, Chris Kyle is watching the 9/11 attacks unfold on TV. In the next scene, Kyle is seen deploying to Iraq. But unlike Kyle, Reppenhagen became aware that he and his division were risking their lives in Iraq for fabricated causes, and actively started speaking out against the war.