19 March 2008

Movie Review: This is War

I was given a free copy of "This is War" which tells the story of the Oregon National Guard 2/162. It's an excellent documentary of the unit's travels through Iraq during 2004 to early 2005. The way it is edited focuses on interviews with the soldiers, instead of a bunch of footage of Bush during his boneheaded "Mission Accomplished" speech or Abu Ghraib, which leaves the political element of the Iraq war on the cutting room floor. This is beneficial in the case of this documentary, as it truly is a soldier's tale. Their stories shatter the stereotypes perpetuated from non-military types of "murderous thugs", "rubes with weaponry", or "glorious crusaders for God's Army" that float around the punditsphere on all fronts.

Unsurprisingly, these guys act like most people I know in the military: cynical and stoic about their situation, but ultimately trying to do the right thing with the bare minimum of resources. At the beginning of the movie, it shows clips of them scrounging around Camp Udari in Kuwait and Camp Taji north of Baghdad looking for "hillbilly armor" to spruce up their ill-equipped humvees. The day they show up to Camp Taji and get some steel rain from the insurgency to which one soldier quips "We were there for less than 24 hours and one of our guys has already gotten a piece of shrapnel in his arm. Wow, this is going to be an awesome deployment" is humorous in a dark sense. Reminds me of my first day in the Intl Zone. But unlike my own experiences, these guys are actually at the pointy-ended spear of the Iraq war. The fear of IEDs, their convoy getting ambushed heading north from Kuwait to Camp Taji, Najaf during the Mahdi Army's uprising, Fallujah during November 2004, these guys and gals were everywhere. The bond between soldiers is well explained and held sacred, but never overly glorified, which is appropriate since the documentary does not seek to laud the reality of modern conflict.

This seems to be a very honest depiction of a unit just trying to get through the deployment without a lot of ulterior political motives mixed into the fray (rare this day and age). Excellent documentary. My only gripe is that some footage was spliced in from weapons cam video that had nothing to do with the narration by the interviewee, and their time in Fallujah was glossed over pretty quickly. But definitely worth your time. Ordering info is here. This documentary leaves with you with a feeling of respect for these men and women as they actually courageously carried something out, while most of their peers back stateside probably can't even remember 2004. Screen captions are below:

The Plywood Convoy into Iraq

Ironically cheering on the Sadrist uprising

Unearthing a cache

Chilling after an IED attack

Cute Iraqi kid doodles on Humvee

The wounded in Fallujah


David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 03/19/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.