CHAPTER 3 The old world

In 2008 cable television network HBO ran a series that has achieved a cult status among fans of quality television miniseries. Called Generation Kill, it was the (very lightly) fictionalised story of the US Marine Corps' First Reconnaissance Division and its role in the second Iraqi invasion of 2003 (or, as it was known, ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom').

Generation Kill was based on the book and series of articles by Rolling Stone journalist Evan Wright, who embedded with First Recon for their entire campaign, from first footfall in mid March to entry into Baghdad in early April.

Reconnaissance marines are among the elite warriors of the US military. They are trained, much like alpine-style mountaineers, to move light and fast and to adapt quickly to their changing surroundings. What they don't do is move in large numbers, and definitely not in slow, methodical, predictable formations.

That changed with Operation Iraqi Freedom. First Recon was sent in-country in lightly armoured open-top Humvees, with no air cover, in broad daylight, across swathes of open desert, ...

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