Townhall.com Staff

Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from American Sniper, a book written by Navy SEAL Chris Kyle

I looked through the scope of the sniper rifle, scan¬ ning down the road of the tiny Iraqi town. Fifty yards away, a woman opened the door of a small house and stepped outside with her child.

The rest of the street was deserted. The local Iraqis had gone inside, most of them scared. A few curious souls peeked out from behind curtains, waiting. They could hear the rumble of the ap¬ proaching American unit. The Marines were flooding up the road, marching north to liberate the country from Saddam Hussein.

It was my job to protect them. My platoon had taken over the building earlier in the day, sneaking into position to provide “overwatch”—prevent the enemy from ambushing the Marines as they came through.

It didn’t seem like too difficult a task—if anything, I was glad the Marines were on my side. I’d seen the power of their weapons and I would’ve hated to have to fight them. The Iraq army didn’t stand a chance. And, in fact, they appeared to have abandoned the area already.

The war had started roughly two weeks before. My platoon, “Charlie” (later “Cadillac”) of SEAL Team 3, helped kick it off during the early morning of March 20. We landed on al-Faw Pen¬insula and secured the oil terminal there so Saddam couldn’t set it ablaze as he had during the First Gulf War. Now we were tasked to assist the Marines as they marched north toward Baghdad.

I was a SEAL, a Navy commando trained in special operations. SEAL stands for “SEa, Air, Land,” and it pretty much describes the wide ranges of places we operate. In this case, we were far inland, much farther than SEALs traditionally operated, though as the war against terror continued, this would become common. I’d spent nearly three years training and learning how to become a warrior; I was ready for this fight, or at least as ready as anyone can be.

The rifle I was holding was a .300 WinMag, a bolt-action, pre¬cision sniper weapon that belonged to my platoon chief. He’d been covering the street for a while and needed a break. He showed a great deal of confidence in me by choosing me to spot him and take the gun. I was still a new guy, a newbie or rookie in the Teams. By SEAL standards, I had yet to be fully tested.

I was also not yet trained as a SEAL sniper. I wanted to be one in the worst way, but I had a long way to go. Giving me the rifle that morning was the chief’s way of testing me to see if I had the right stuff.