Saturday, November 26, 2005

Off to War

I don't know how many of you have seen this show on the Discovery/NY Times Channel, I heard about it when I was home on R&R last year. I started watching because it was about a unit (the 39th BCT AR NG) that I served alongside at Camp Taji/ Camp Cooke, Iraq.

Last year I was able to watch the documentary that showed their call-up, train-up and eventual deployment to Iraq. The entire documentary is now showing over the Thanksgiving holiday and also on Saturday nights.

I can't believe that the Army or even the Arkansas National Guard was pleased with the results of this series that shows the story of a Combat Engineer Company. If one was to believe this film we would believe that almost every second of every day is consumed by these guys whining and bitching. We are bludgeoned about the head and shoulders every episode about how the families want their loved ones back, about how they (the soldiers) are missing this or that event in their loved ones lives. I wish I had a dime for every time I heard the line, "I didn't sign up to do this." It's interesting how these guys think they are especially grieved because they are missing this or that event, when there are plenty of soldiers who have missed plenty of events...yes, you did sign up for it, you make me sick.

I want to be sympathetic but seeing the constant pissing and moaning on display gets old fast. I understand that a lot of this has something to do with the way the filmmaker cut and edited the show. I know from having been a soldier for 18 plus years that soldiers do bitch, but it needs to be placed in context. I am embarrassed for that unit, the AR NG and the Army as a whole to see this presentation.

Something that I did notice, and I believe that the Army and chains of command need to to a better job of is giving their soldiers an understanding of the big picture. In this show I saw so much ignorance about the GWOT and OIF displayed by the soldiers that their dissatisfaction and confusion was understandable given their ignorance of mission goals and general TTPs.

In general, this was a pretty pathetic presentation...not consistent with my experience in Iraq. It could have very well been totally in-line with the feeling and experiences of that company in the 39th but it didn't represent most of what I saw. Additionally grating was the one note constant bitching by some of the families...yeah, I get it, you miss your matter how many times you cry or emote to the camera they aren't coming home any sooner. Additionally now that your son is home I'm sure it makes him proud to see your constant blubbering on the TV. A note to anyone in my family reading this...don't ever agree to go on TV when I'm deployed. Does no one have any shame anymore?

Whatever education value the general public could get out of this show is ruined by the need of the filmmaker to turn this show into a bitch-fest...I applaud the soldiers sacrifice but wish to hell they could keep their big mouths shut when the camera's rolling.

A better documentary would be: A Company of Soldiers. I was fortunate enough to see this documentary after my return. Available through the PBS website, if you get a chance to see it I recommend it highly.



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