The Battle for Marjah (2010)
User ReviewsReview this title
Like anything else, there is a bit of bias.
But personally, I believe the outlook portrayed by the film makers aligns with the situation on the ground; this story does not deviate from the books or articles I have read.
It is not that the Afghan War has been lost, but rather that it was unwinnable from the start; the history of the region should have been the first clue; Alexander the Great, the British, the Russians, and the US and ISAF to name a few - and there were many - let alone that a centralized government in Afghanistan (regardless of the capital - Kabul, Herat, Kandahar) has never been effective, with the exception of Abdur Rahman in the late 1800s: using money from the British, he created one of the most repressive regimes in Afghan history, crushed all opposition, and ruled by fear. Certainly, then, a far cry from the Jeffersonian democracy we have tried to install (which, I might add, is riddled with corruption; Karzai is a joke).
The Marines performed their duties nearly flawlessly. The modern battlefield is one of the most mentally taxing in world history; the "Three Block War" captures only a piece of this, particularly as Improvised Explosive Devices have added a major variable to the equation (and are now the number one cause of Coalition casualties).
To me, this film presents them as doing the absolute best job they can - and then some - in a situation that can only go from bad to worse.
The only major flaw, and why I've given it a 9, is because it fails to discuss that the Afghans interviewed here, natives of southern Afghanistan, are Pashtun, the ethnic group from which the Afghan Taliban are primarily comprised. No wonder, then, that they would be more sympathetic to the "sons of this land," rather than foreign Americans and Afghan National Army troops of a different ethnicity (Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara).
Every text description of the combat situation is made to sound like it is hopeless or pointless or both. Every quote was picked to emphasize the negative feelings of the soldiers. Interviews with townspeople are all Taliban sympathizers, or more likely snuck-in-to-town Taliban soldiers, who "just" want the Americans to leave. That's the repeated refrain the filmmaker's chose to highlight from the interviews with with locals. Every filmmaker is (still) trying to re-create the Vietnam War reaction among viewers.
In spite of this obvious, and cowardly, bias, the true heroism of our Marines shines through. Their courage and calmness under fire is amazing. Their tactics are consistently successful. They march to victory despite long odds. They made me proud to be an American. The filmmakers, not so much.