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American Sniper is an autobiographical book and movie about one of the deadliest snipers in U.S. History, Chris Kyle. This movie shows his upbringing as a country boy from Texas to becoming a Navy Seal sniper. He was deployed to Iraq in 2003 as part of an operation to liberate the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein. When Chris comes home after his first deployment, he's more moody and angry than he was before. When Chris was deployed, he had a sum of 160 confirmed kills which is incredibly high compared to almost any other sniper in the world. On one of his tours, people find out the Taliban calls Chris “The Devil of Ramadi” and they make Chris a high-value target and put a big price on his head. One of his brothers in arms gets shot in the head and loses both eyes and his other brother in arms tragically dies in combat, which he takes responsibility for. When he was deployed, he finds out his daughter has leukemia and he comes back to the U.S., reluctantly leaving his squad behind. He later finds out that his daughter will live and he begins to develop an alcohol problem. After months of therapy, Chris goes on one last deployment to a city called Sadir. In 2008, he comes back to the United States for good. He stops drinking as much and becomes more in tune with urban society and family life. Sadly, Chris was shot and killed on February 2nd, 2013 at a shooting range at the hands of a fellow soldier suffering from PTSD who he was trying to help.
Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen, and Jim DeFelice. American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History. First edition.
In the Middle East, you have more to worry about than just Syrian soldiers and I.E.Ds. Earlier this year, U.S. troops were ambushed by Russian mercenaries and around 500 pro-Syrian government forces. The U.S. soldiers were under an intense amount of fire and tanks were advancing on their position. The contact lasted about four hours and 200-300 of the attacking forces were killed in action. The U.S.soldiers on the ground called in countless airstrikes and didn't stop until the attacking forces retreated because of the intense airstrikes. Luckily, none of the 40 U.S. soldiers were harmed. This was one of the bloodiest engagements in Syria to date since they started fighting ISIS. Our government was watching these soldiers preparing for this and was continuously watching Russian and Syrian troops gathering at this point. The U.S. government has stated that they warned them countless times to leave their positions and to retreat. Luckily, the Russian forces were a private military group so tensions with Russia did not escalate. By 3:00 pm, a mass of around 500 troops and 27 vehicles including tanks arrived ready to engage. At 8:30 p.m., the force was nearly a mile away from the American base. At 10:30 pm, the Syrian and Russian forces attacked and for the first 15 minutes the U.S. troops fired warning shots and tried to make contact to urge Russian officials to retreat from their position but their troops kept advancing. Thankfully, this engagement did not take any of the lives of U.S. troops but one Syrian refugee was injured. The Syrian government has stated multiple times that they were not responsible for the attack even though some evidence may prove otherwise.
Gibbons-neff, Thomas. “How a 4-Hour Battle Between Russian Mercenaries and U.S. Commandos Unfolded in Syria.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 24 May 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/05/24/world/middleeast/american-commandos-russian-mercenaries-syria.html.
This article is about the airstrikes President Trump had fired at Syria because of the chemical gassing of their own people. The U.S. launched missiles at three different facilities used for the making of chemical weapons such as the ones used in the horrific attack. One site was near the city of Damascus and the other sight was near a city called Homs. The target in Damascus was allegedly the research center for these chemical weapons and the two sites near Homs were the factories used to make these weapons. The target in Demasus was a large warehouse-like building and the targets in Homs were small and remote. The Pentagon stated that In one of the facilities in Homs, nerve gas called Sarin was stored there, and the other facility was a military command post. The strikes the U.S. commanded had a devastating effect and left the buildings completely eradicated and unusable to the insurgents. The U.S. wasn't the only nation to cooperate in this retaliation. The French and British military also helped protect the citizens of Syria by participating in these honorable strikes. The chemical attack has left more than 40 dead and countless injured and this isn't the first time Assad has used horrific chemicals on his own people. As President Trump stated, he wanted to pull troops out of the Middle East but since these chemical attacks, he has no intent on doing so. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has also stated that there is no more intent on striking Syria again unless there is more chemical attacks. Syrian news channels had stated that they were able to shoot down 13 missiles which hasn't been confirmed at the time of this article. Officials have stated that the strikes were not to lend aid in a civil war nor about regime change but to punish Assad for his barbaric attacks on his own people.
Cooper, Helene, et al. “U.S., Britain and France Strike Syria Over Suspected Chemical Weapons Attack.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 14 Apr. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/04/13/world/middleeast/trump-strikes-syria-attack.html
Bryan Denton is a photographer for the New York Times and he initially went to southern Turkey just outside of Gaziantep to see a family that was struck by the mustard gas sent by the Islamic State. This family’s newborn child tragically died because of these horrific and cowardly strikes against innocent civilians. The photos taken are very dramatic and really show the environment and the soldiers. There is a photo of a soldier without legs and all bandaged up in a medical chopper. One medic seems to be yelling on the radio while the injured soldier has I.V. bags going into him. The injured warrior has USMC tattooed in bold, black letters on his side showing his dedication to the best country in the world. All of these photos are very raw, blunt, and in your face about this war. These wonderful and often tragic photos allow you to emotionally connect to what is happening in this war. These photos really show what Syria is like, a barren desert but also the most hectic and crowded place for our troops.
LensCulture, Blink Network |. “How Times Have Changed: Photojournalism and the Middle East - Interview with Bryan Denton.” LensCulture, The MIT Press, www.lensculture.com/articles/blink-network-how-times-have-changed-photojournalism-and-the-middle-east
Washington announced decertification of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement with Iran due to the fact that the U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq have almost put an end to ISIS. Defeating ISIS is a great accomplishment but how do we prevent another terrorist organization like ISIS from uprising. Carl von Clausewitz, a Russian General and military theorist, has stated that a tactical success like the defeat of ISIS without any strategic goal is meaningless because the chances of another uprising is very high. This article speaks so clearly as to how convoluted the Middle East is, how intertwined all the countries are and how it has been since the days of Palto. I also see that with every country’s interest at stake, how it will continue to be in turmoil unless we start thinking big picture, figure out a way to work together, and come up with a solution for the betterment of all. The Middle East has been in turmoil since the beginning of recorded time. With all the moving parts, it makes it more difficult to come up with a rational solution. It has not been able to be done for over two thousand years but we need to be positive. While I write this, we are in a pinnacle point in history with the possible denuclearization of North Korea. The impossible can be achieved as we await the results of the summit between the U.S. and North Korea. The world is a complicated intertwined spiderweb of politics and self-interest and I hope that one day we can work it out for the benefit of all.
Blank, Stephen. “The Consequences of US Disengagement from the Middle East.” TheHill, The Hill, 24 Oct. 2017 thehill.com/opinion/international/356902-the-consequences-of-us-disengagement-from-the-middle-east.
The Marines top officer on Syria has stated that he wants to help end ISIS by lending his troops to the Pentagon. He has told Military.com that he thinks the Marines are well trained and disciplined enough to handle these missions that the Pentagon is using special ops forces for. The Marines have been prevalent in the Middle East since September of 2012 when the terrorist attack on the American base in Benghazi was executed, killing four Americans including an ambassador of the United States. After this attack, the United States set up a network of quick reaction forces across the globe. Different Marine units have taken turns providing soldiers to different areas but mostly these forces are used as a deterrent to prevent any chance of another Benghazi like attack happening again. This operation is called “New Normal” and the Pentagon has been very quiet and hasn't given anyone much information about this operation. The “Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force” which was formed to protect embassies has at least eight different jobs and one of these jobs is to do “any other mission as may be directed”. This task force set aside around 200 Marines and a couple of cargo planes to be able to rush these troops anywhere they need to go. Civilians don't know much about these task forces due to the Pentagon keeping it very quiet so insurgents in ISIS don't know much either. The Pentagon keeps revising and creating new strategies in Syria and Iraq to keep the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq on their toes.
“The U.S. Marines Are Flying All Over the Middle East on Secretive Missions.” War Is Boring, warisboring.com/the-u-s-marines-are-flying-all-over-the-middle-east-on-secretive-missions/