The Battle for Marjah (2010) - News Poster

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Four Documentaries of the War in Afghanistan (Part Two)

In 2011, a BBC Three film crew followed a group of four young men through their basic infantry training in the British Army, then beyond, and produced a five-episode TV documentary series, Young Soldiers.

Towards the end of his basic training, the most outstanding recruit, Darren Meads, aged 22, from Doncaster in Yorkshire, is given a choice. He is told he can join one of the five battalions of The Rifles Regiment: 1 Rifles, 2 Rifles, 3 Rifles, 4 Rifles or 5 Rifles.

He chooses, sensibly, either 4 or 3 Rifles, in that order, each based in the UK and neither then slated for deployment to Afghanistan. But, it turns out, he never really had a choice, because he is told later that he is going to join 1 Rifles, the next battalion to deploy to Afghanistan, whether he likes it or not.

To his great credit, Darren allowed himself to be filmed meditating on this news, while clearly troubled by it at the time,
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Four Documentaries of the War in Afghanistan (Part One)

This is the first part of a two-part post that seeks to examine four recent documentaries about the war in Afghanistan: one for cinema, Restrepo; two for TV, HBO’s The Battle for Marjah, BBC Three’s Young Soldiers; and a nine-minute ‘mini’ doco made just for the web.

As a sort of preface, some Sos readers may welcome some background on these.

First, three were filmed before ‘green on blue’, the euphemism for attacks on Us, British, Canadian, Australian and other Coalition soldiers by men wearing uniforms like those worn by the Afghan National Army, became a phrase known to the media and to the public.

Second, each clearly was filmed with the total co-operation of the junior and middle-ranking officers of the Us and British army units involved – and presumably with that of the more senior officers immediately above them.

Third, none of these documentaries could, I believe,
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