Several nights after the June 17 raid, Kyle and a group of Marines and jundis are sent down the river running through Ramadi to scope out a potential COP (Command Observation Post), which may or may not be harboring insurgents. Suddenly, Kyle notices that the laser on his gun isn’t working. Before he has a chance to replace the battery, he notices an insurgent sitting near the water. Kyle motions for his lieutenant to shoot, and the lieutenant kills the insurgent. Kyle seizes the dead insurgent’s gun and then follows the rest of his platoon to the COP site. The platoon reaches a big house with a wall around it; Kyle and the other soldiers climb the wall, where they find civilians sleeping in the courtyard. They secure the house, drive out the civilians, and claim the house as COP Falcon, a military base.
This passage marks one of the only times in the book when Kyle has a significant problem with his weapon; for the most part, his gun serves him well at all times. Notice the way that Kyle and the other SEALs claim private Iraqi houses in the name of the U.S. military: one could argue that the SEALs’ claim to the house that becomes COP Falcon is far less valid than the claim of the civilians Kyle finds sleeping there. But because the SEALs are armed and dangerous, they claim the house for their side.
After securing COP Falcon, Kyle is ordered to work with military strategists in Ramadi. His job is to provide input about upcoming offensive operations. While Kyle enjoys giving advice, he finds the work too bureaucratic—“coat and tie stuff,” as he puts it. Another one of Kyle’s duties at this time is evaluating the soldiers in his platoon. Kyle hates having to give feedback about other soldiers.
As Kyle becomes a more respected soldier, he’s given increasingly bureaucratic assignments, which involve evaluating his fellow soldiers. Kyle doesn’t enjoy these assignments, because, as we’ve seen, his preference is always to fight in the field.
As Kyle continues his work, the U.S. military sends more tanks and trucks to Ramadi. COP Falcon becomes an especially important military base—it also becomes a prime target for insurgents. One day, a group of insurgents armed with AKs surrounds COP Falcon. However, Kyle and the other soldiers stationed inside snipe the insurgents over the course of the next few hours, killing almost all of them. Around this time, Kyle makes his 100th kill as a sniper—Kyle describes this as “a huge milestone.”
As before, Kyle continues to accumulate kills without displaying any (acknowledged) signs of guilt, hesitation, or trauma. He kills his hundredth insurgent in Iraq, and treats the kill as a major milestone, almost as if he’s an athlete setting a record, rather than a professional killer.
The military sends new orders to Kyle’s platoon: clear the area surrounding COP Falcon. Kyle and a few other SEALs volunteer to secure the most dangerous area near COP Falcon. Kyle gets permission from the ranking captain in COP Falcon, but the commanding captain warns Kyle that if he gets in trouble, he won’t be able to send any backup, since there’ll be too many IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices). Kyle and his fellow SEALs successfully clear the dangerous area, and afterwards, the captain is so impressed that he says, “I don’t care where you go, if you need me, I’m comin’ to get you.”
While stationed in Ramadi, Kyle becomes more interested in prayer. Before fighting, he joins a prayer circle led by Marc Lee. Kyle doesn’t always pray before a fight, but he always thanks God afterwards. He also enjoys smoking cigars at the end of a long day. Kyle tries not to think about the possibility of death—instead, he thinks of himself as “invincible.”
Kyle isn’t the most religious person in his platoon, but, like many soldiers in times of uncertainty, he turns to God for reassurance and comfort. The passage is also a good example of how Kyle uses machismo to disguise his trauma and fear. He tells himself he’s invincible to distract himself from the thought of his own mortality.
Kyle, now the head sniper in the area, trains new American snipers. However, his greatest passion is still shooting his own gun. Luckily, he thinks, there are lots of insurgents walking through the streets of Ramadi. Indeed, he says, “We were just slaughtering them.” During this time, the SEALs sustain very few serious injuries—for instance, the first person to be shipped out of Ramadi gets a piece of shrapnel lodged in his patella (kneecap), a painful but not particularly serious injury. One day, Kyle kills an insurgent who attempts to fire at him; immediately afterwards, the insurgent’s mother weeps and cradles her son’s dead body. Kyle thinks, “If you loved them, you should have kept them away from the war.” Kyle admits that this is a cruel way to think, but “it’s hard to sympathize with grief when it’s over someone who just tried to kill you.”
Again, Kyle uses dehumanizing language like “slaughtering,” a word more often applied to animals than people, to talk about his actions against the insurgents. Kyle’s lack of sympathy for insurgents (or even neutral Iraqis who happen to be related to insurgents) is plain in this scene: he can’t even muster sympathy for the mother of a dead insurgent. However, this passage marks one of the only times in the book when Kyle admits that his attitude toward Iraqis is cruel; nevertheless, as he says here, he hates insurgents because they’re trying to kill him.
Taya calls Kyle, and learns that he’s written letters to her and their children, in the event that he dies. Taya finds herself getting angry with Kyle for writing letters rather than expressing his feelings for his family “here and now.” She thinks, “Tell me now. Make it real. Don’t just say some sappy shit when you’re gone.”
Kyle still struggles to express his feelings to his wife and children. His experiences in war act as a barrier in his relationship with Taya: it’s suggested that he can’t express himself to his wife because he thinks she won’t understand what he’s been through.
Fighting in Ramadi escalates, and a total of ninety-six American soldiers are killed. Kyle has a few close calls, but survives the fighting. Kyle realizes that he’s become a target for insurgents, since his reputation has spread to insurgents as well as U.S. soldiers. Kyle learns that the insurgents have put a bounty on his life, and that they have their own nickname for him: the Devil of Ramadi. This makes Kyle proud. In the meantime, he continues setting up COPs across the city. He notices signs of progress in Ramadi: tribal leaders are more vocal in calling for peace, and some sections of the city are fairly safe.
As the danger in Ramadi increases, Kyle comes to enjoy the fighting more, not less. For instance, he’s not intimidated when he learns that there’s a bounty on his life—rather, he takes the bounty as a compliment and a badge of honor. The passage also gives the sense that Kyle and the SEALs’ aggressive style of warfare has intimidated the Ramadi leadership into negotiating for peace.
Kyle and the other SEALs fall into a “rhythm” of working in Ramadi: securing COPs, cordoning off areas, fighting insurgents, etc. Things seem to be improving, but there’s still a lot of danger—on one operation, Kyle recalls, “Ryan got shot.”
The chapter ends with a cliffhanger—Kyle mentions that Ryan Job, his friend and fellow SEAL, gets shot. So far, none of Kyle’s close friends have been seriously hurt.