In the northern desert of Kuwait, the elite, specially trained U.S. First Recon Marines prepare to invade Iraq as the "tip of the spear" for Operation Iraqi Freedom. At the Camp Mathilda staging ground, Marines in First Recon's Bravo Company combat boredom, cramped tents, shortages of necessary supplies and armour, moustache protocol, officer ineptitude, a wind storm, an espresso machine fire and rumours of J-Lo's death while awaiting orders from Col. Stephen "Godfather" Ferrando, the raspy-throated Commander of First Recon. They also welcome a writer ("Scribe") from Rolling Stone magazine, who'll be embedded with Bravo's five-vehicle Platoon 2 unit, riding in a Humvee with Team Leader Brad "Iceman" Colbert, driver Ray Person and LCpl. James Trombley. After an unexpected and portentous mass delivery of pizza, the soldiers finally break camp, pack up their Humvees and cross the northern border into Iraq -- and into an uncertain future.
Along with the rest of the First Marine Division, Bravo busts north towards Nasiriyah, where their sister company Alpha gets its first taste of combat in a skirmish with Iraqi forces at a bridge outside the city. Prompted by an anxious Major General Mattis, Ferrando orders Bravo to cross the Euphrates the next night, but they end up entering Nasiriyah by day, driving through the city with minimal gunfire, save for an AK-47 assault by Platoon 3 leader "Captain America" McGraw on an empty car. Heading north to Mesopotamia -the "Cradle of Civilization"- "Bravo continues to lag behind other companies, partly because of a wrong turn ordered by its commander, Cpt. "Encino Man" Schwetje, who blames it on Colbert. Chomping at the bit while others are carrying the fight, the platoon finally gets "lit up" in a violent but successful skirmish in Al Gharraf, during which Trombley scores his first kill. Elated and relatively unscathed, the platoon celebrates its triumph, despite Sgt. Maj. Sixta's refrain to "maintain the grooming standard" and shave off all moustaches. Reflecting on the day's successes, Ferrando admits his biggest fear isn't fighting the Iraqis, but doing something his general won't like. For one night, he'll have no such fear.
Having survived its first trial by fire, Bravo presses forward, awaiting orders for a new recon mission. Scoping out a roadside hamlet, the company watches in horror and disbelief as a regimental combat team arrives with guns firing and the hamlet is obliterated. On new orders, Bravo heads to the town of Ar Rifa, where Fick tries to take control of a dangerous situation created by "Encino Man," who requests an artillery strike on a phantom RPG team. After Alpha Company shells the town, Ferrando issues a new, more urgent order, push ahead 40 kilometres and capture an airfield controlled by Iraqi Republican Guard and defended by tanks. The trip is slowed when a supply truck is hit by friendly fire from reservists, prompting Ferrando to order it abandoned. Disturbed by Alpha's slow progress on foot and in need of reconnaissance before British paratroopers hit the airfield, Godfather orders Bravo to trek through the night and get to the strip, treating all Iraqis as hostile. Trombley takes the order to heart and fires, later discovering he shot two Iraqi boys and their camels. Bravo ends up taking the airfield without a single casualty, though "Captain America" does his best to cripple its abandoned hangars, and orders an impossible strike on some remote civilian huts. The boys wounded by Trombley are delivered to "Godfather's" tent by Doc Bryan and team leaders, who hope to get them cas-evaced to a trauma unit. After giving compelling reasons why such an evacuation is impossible, "Godfather" ultimately approves the request. Trombley is told he should prepare for an investigation, but expresses concern only over the fate of Colbert, who had given him orders to fire.
Having raced to capture the airfield, First Recon is now miles ahead of the rest of the American force and has some time to rest and regroup. The abandoned supply truck has been looted and destroyed, and the company is now down to one meal a day. After expressing their dismay to their commander, Alpha is tasked with a different mission - to recover the body of a captured Marine who was murdered in Ash Shatrah, which takes a twist when a CIA-trained army of Iraqi Freedom Fighters arrives and then just as quickly departs. Meanwhile, Bravo pushes north, clearing hamlets and facing heavy fire. Along the way, Trombley is able to redeem himself at least a bit in the eyes of his fellow Marines. As Alpha heads into Ash Shatra, Bravo sets up a roadblock outside of Al Hayy. The men debate the proper protocol to stop cars, but it is a fine line between being cautious and putting oneself at risk. Bravo steps off as Alpha returns to the fold, having raised more questions with their mission in Ash Shatra than they answered.
As they scope a tiny hamlet, the men of Bravo are frustrated by the capricious nature of the war, and Colbert struggles to defend the actions of the higher-ups. First Recon finally gets a chance to use its skills and exploit some intelligence from Iraqi locals about an ambush at a bridge ahead. For once, First Recon isn't tasked with heading straight into the ambush, but instead they rest and watch as better-armed LAVs assault the bridge. With the ambush believed to be quelled, Colbert's team is ordered to lead Bravo across the bridge. They quickly discover that the enemy combatants still have some fight in them, but led by Colbert, they manage to escape almost unscathed. After regrouping, Bravo is ordered to cross the bridge again - this time with Bravo 3 in the lead - and again hits a snag. The following morning, First Recon examines the bodies of the men they fought the night before and discover their enemy is not who they imagined. Bravo continues north to Al Muwaffaqiyah, where they are tasked with another mission: Set up another roadblock and destroy the Republican Guard outpost, which happens to be the town's only school. Despite Colbert's exhortations to the men to hold their fire unless it's absolutely necessary, Bravo has an incident at the roadblock. As they again head north, the inexactitude of the war weighs heavily on the men.
Outside of Al Kut, Captain America is over-eager in his attempts to subdue a prisoner, and his men's growing disillusionment with his command is becoming more and more apparent. Meanwhile, Ferrando relays to his officers the news that his counterpart in the Regimental Combat Team has been relieved of duty despite achieving his objective. "Encino Man" takes Ferrando's speech to heart and puts Fic on notice that there will be no more questioning of his orders. First Recon's next mission is to escort civilians fleeing from Baghdad down the highway. The men are overcome by the humanity and try to help, which gives Fic pause. Colbert and the others realise that with Baghdad being the next stop for the American forces, their war has probably come to an end - a fact which rankles Ferrando, who itches to get back in the game. After reuniting with an old friend who tells horror stories about the Marine reservists, First Recon heads to Baqubah, a town north of Baghdad, to go up against Iraqi armour - with those same reservists in tow. Despite some mishaps along the way, the mission is successful, and the Marines take some prisoners. Unfortunately, Sgt. Eric Kocher, Colbert's counterpart in Bravo 3, and one of his men are accused by a reservist of mistreating a prisoner. First Recon heads back to Baghdad, unsure of what their role will be in the city.
Bravo reaches Baghdad and is shocked by the sheer size and scope of the city. They set up shop in an abandoned cigarette factory with a chance to rest for a bit, although the factory grounds aren't quite as secure as they'd like. Hampered by having only one translator for the battalion, First Recon can only send out sporadic patrols into the city. During those patrols they discover the list of problems the Iraqis face is much greater than the Marines could imagine. Their attempts to help are thwarted by ever-changing assignments, a lack of necessary supplies, unruly locals and cultural misunderstandings. While Colbert worries about his friend Kocher, who has been demoted, Lt. Fic becomes more and more disillusioned with the lack of a plan in Baghdad and refuses an order that would put his men in danger. The men learn their final night in Baghdad is upon them and celebrate in a football stadium. They head south to an abandoned Iraqi army base to wrap things up, but not before "Captain America's" misguided enthusiasm has disastrous results. The Marines take inventory and reflect on their time in Iraq, and tensions that have been simmering throughout finally boil over during a friendly football game. "Scribe" says his goodbyes to the men and has an interesting conversation with Ferrando before heading off. One of the Recon Marines shows the movie he's put together from footage he's shot, and the men enjoy the sights and sounds before drifting off.
Based on Evan Wright’s acclaimed 2004 non-fiction book of the same name, Generation Kill is a seven-part miniseries that focuses on the first 40 days of the Iraq war, a.k.a. “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” as seen through the eyes and actions of a group of elite U.S. First Recon Marines who were at the spearhead of the invasion. While offering vivid and unvarnished portraits of the actual Marines who rode alongside Wright (an embedded journalist working for Rolling Stone magazine) in military Humvees for two months starting in March 2003, Generation Kill provides a gritty, uncompromising account of the collective forces that guided these highly-trained Marines across a barren landscape, and against an unknowable enemy, in an often-improvised military initiative designed to liberate the Iraqi populace from Saddam Hussein. The men of Bravo Company adapt to their grim and dangerous surroundings with a combination of skill, resolve, subversive humor, stoicism and, occasionally, blind faith.
"You got seven thousand Marine riflemen who have been ready to go for the last twenty-four hours. And you're standing here with your foot on your d**ks, no, check that, not your d**k, my d**ks."
Commander Marine Corps 1st Division
Rank: Commander Marine Corps 1st Division (top of chain)