Grisly tales of bloodlust in Iraq by much decorated Marine sniper Afong.
Plodding through these 11 secondhand accounts of recent operations in Iraq, plus one in which the author participated, the reader comes away with the impression that men indeed relish going to war. Marine snipers are the best-trained killers of all, as Afong proudly reports in his work, which is full of impressive-sounding military acronyms, such as SLUG (Slow, Lazy, Untrained Gunman), PIG (Professionally Instructed Gunman) and HOG (Hunter of Gunman), the last a prized designation for the Marine scout/sniper. Shooting is only ten percent of the job, writes Afong, the other tasks being tedious defensive operations and keeping roads clear of IEDs, or improvised explosive devices. But hunting provides gratification to these killers, and Afong offers plenty of machine-powered gore, from “Ambush in Ramadi,” in which Sgt. Romeo shoots his first insurgent and feels nothing significant except doing what he was trained to do; to “Operator’s Journey,” in which Sgt. CJ observes a man’s head shot off like “an apple being smashed with a sledgehammer.” One story has Marines taking potshots at passing trucks loaded with “hajjis” carrying AKs. (“They meet the rules of engagement,” says one eager marine to his partner. “Let’s shoot ’em.”) The point is to demoralize the enemy by flooding the insurgent city of Fallujah with music, destroying houses and leveling buildings and vaporizing anyone on the streets with bombs or machine guns. As the dead bodies lay untended, any insurgents dashing to move their fallen comrades are shot instantly by the Americans. One sniper called Ethan watches with satisfaction when the dogs move in to devour the flesh of the corpses. The more bodies the Marines bring down, the more high-fives all around. Afong’s “Final Mission” relates his accidental killing of a 14-year-old boy, and the author remarks with a wry shrug, “It was all just an unfortunate consequence of war.”
Anyone doubting the nature of America’s mission in Iraq need look no further than these grim accounts.