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Frontline World "Afghanistan: The Other War"

Thorvald

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Some of the comments in the synopsis of the video are disturbing (however they are anonymous):

Winnipeg, Canada
An excellent story. Unfortunately the story left me embarrassed, disappointed and horrified at the Canadians. I watched in disbelief as I witnessed the incompetence and series of poor decisions being made by Canadians in that particular base camp. I can only hope that it was the exception rather than the rule.

Boston, MA
Great program! This is the first time I have seen how things are happening at a village level in Afghanistan. I could relate to well-meaning efforts of Canadian troops, but their methods fall short.

It is quite shocking that modern Western military can't pull-off repairing a few water pumps! Also, I could see how locals can turn against troops, when troops fire warning shots very close to oncoming trucks & motorcycles. In this part of the world, stop never means a full stop, it's always slowly go around. It's understandable that troops are concerned about suicide attackers. The only way around is for troops to actually recognize ordinary people. As long as Western troops can't tell one Afghani from another, they won't be able to win peace.

I haven't seen the video yet but did we somehow come off as 'none too swift'?

 

Old Sweat

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I saw the video and found it very informative. As for the water pumps et al, the troops were based in FOB Martello and depended on receiving spares, etc from KAF to accomplish anything. I will let those with experience in theatre comment on that. However I suspect spares for ancient water pumps of indeterminate nationality do not have a NSN and certainly are not available through local purchase order.

The firing of warning shots, I assume, was as per ROE and followed arm waves, etc. Furthermore a large sign was clearly visible and the warning shot was far enough in front of the vehicle that the driver was on all occasions able to see the dust from the impact, which was immediately followed by him standing on the brakes.

If anything seemed apparent, it was that there were nowhere near enough troops to accomplish a pacification mission. To make it worse, the area was abandoned after a few months, leaving the locals to the tender mercies of the Taliban.

As I said, I have not and likely never will serve in Afghanistan, so my first hand knowledge is zilch. We should also realize that documentary film makers are not bound by any requirement to maintain strict historical accuracy, so I cannot vouch for the authenticity of what I saw in a larger context. We can see by the comments that two viewers who presumably were in the same boat, and perhaps with no military experience, took away a different impression than did I.
 

Thorvald

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I finally saw it tonight... it certainly did not paint us in a very good light, except for the little "exchange" with the US Special Forces types...  ;D

For those that have not seen it, here are some of the points that we picked up on.  Again, as per the previous poster, the authors of the film can twist things anyway they want and they seem to wanted to make us/Nato look "sloppy".

(Don't forget that this was only a 15-20 min piece, think 20/20 style segment for us old farts.)



- PRT team sets up shop in new area that has never had one before

- PRT Sgt. visits nearby village to see about 'hearts and minds', Sgt. is female however (i.e. no beard, not a man, village elders may or may not trust) but they really don't play on that much in the film.

- She offers to fix the villages water pumps (they take 12 away, look like small portable generators actually, at least modern looking pumps that you would see at any cottage etc up in Muskoka  ;D)

- Spare parts requested (spark plugs mostly needed) but delivery did not arrive or was turned away, I need to re-watch that part.  They seemed to indicate that the entire convoy was turned around at the base due to an explosive sniffing dog detecting something on one of the trucks but they don't explain why the entire convoy was turned around.  Again the filmmaker makes the soldiers look like a group of pig headed somethings and are over reacting to the dog.  However I suspect there was alot more involved with that scene that we didn't get to see.

- A scene of a Canadian Soldier (god it's hard to read ranks on Arid CadPat...especially on TV and while sitting in the back of a LAV) on the radio in the LAV calling around to try to find parts, talks about "doesn't the PRT have a supply chain?!?!" (quote not 100% accurate) to the cameraman and other callsign.  Again filmmaker hints that we/Nato don't know what were doing or are not very organized.

- Good sized mechanized patrol heads for a truck stop near Khandahar, looking for spark plugs but cannot find any and are not allowed (or could not) enter the city proper to search.  Makes you wish there was a Canadian Tire just outside the city...

- This is where all the shooting at vehicles takes place as it appears they blocked the major highway going by the truckstop, however you can't really tell from the film.  It may have been spliced together to look that way (i.e. The filmmaker wanted you to believe that they were a bunch of arrogant fools that blocked a major highway just cause they were in the area, filemaker almost leaves you thinking that they could have moved the patrol further into the truck stop or to a nearby field to allow the highway to operate)

- A pickup truck flips over from a warning shot spilling people and cargo everywhere.  Convoy does stop to help as one is wounded and must be medevac'd out, however filmmaker does another dig by indicating his cameraman is ex-British Military and a well training medic who 'helps' the Canadian medic with the wounded man.  Might be reading too much into this scene but it he makes it seem like our Medic could not handle it and if the cameraman had not been there things would not have gone well.

- A second patrol goes out but gets completely mired in rain soaked mud (the Lav's didn't appear to fair well at all by what was filmed, even the ones that were not broken down).  This is filmed in such a way that is almost comical (to a civilian that is...).

- US Special Forces team comes in and detains villager from the nearby village causing distrust etc in the PRT mission

- Medical clinic setup for surrounding villages to come in but they run out of meds before treating all the villagers, forcing those that travelled a long way to leave empt handed/untreated.  Filmmaker hints that everyone that came to the clinic will be a target of revenge now from Timmy.

- PRT only able to repair 2 pumps, returns all of them to the village.

- PRT ordered to close camp and pull out, leaving villagers to their own means (filemaker hinted that Timmy will be back with a vengeance since they "helped" the Nato forces, think Vietnam VC Retribution Teams)



Watch it for yourself and form your own opinions but it certainly wasn't a nice positive 'CBC Style segment' that we are used to seeing.  However I'd love to hear from someone that was actually there who can fill in all the blanks in the footage that leave the viewer to speculate too much.


Cheers




 

Garett

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Good to look at it from multiple directions I guess.  Still isn't on the website.
 

Colin Parkinson

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I thought they were maintaining FOB Martello, but in the film they were shutting it down?
 
M

MG34

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A few things, The PRT did not run FOB Martello, had very little to do with it in fact. The parts for the 70 yr old pumps were not made anymore,if they were good luck finding anything like that in Afghanistan. The PRT couldn't accomplish anything up there without support from KAF/CNS ,ths was not forthcoming. The shooting incident did happen but only after the truck had flipped over, not before and was not the cause of the truck flipping.
  The " mud patrol" the LAVs handled the mud poorly,the main problem was the lead LAV snapped it's steering knuckle and couldn't roll regardless of the terrain and weather.
The film was a series of clips pulled from a larger film,and seems like they were not presented in context. How do I know this..I was there.
 
 

Thorvald

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Thanks for the update!  It turns out that PRT Sgt. is in my unit, so I assume I'll get the true story at some time or another.

As for being part of a larger film, that would explain alot.  They only gave it a small slot on the show.
 

benl

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haven't got a chance to watch it yet as there is no sound on my computer here at work, but it sounds to me like the usual anti war, anti nuclear, green peace, bunny hugging types that produced it.  Attempting to paint our (or any military) in a bad light, as they probably believe that a better course of action would be to walk into Afghanistan, build fully functional hospitals, schools and community centres, while not affecting the average citizens day to day life with pesky things such as checkpoints to enhance safety, all the while asking Timmy to put his guns down so we can all have a daisy laden unity parade and drink punch and eat cake...right before we march to the city of clouds and vote for peace at the world assembly. (if you cannot detect the sarcasm yet, you shouldn't leave the house without a helmet). ::)
 
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