Afghanistan: Telling the Soldiers’ Side of the Story

November 8, 2007

If you didn’t catch Panorama on BBC1 on Monday night, you should head over to the website now and watch the latest programme. It’s an hour of the most gripping, harrowing, brutally honest television you’re likely to see this year. This extract explains further:

Reporter Ben Anderson followed a unit of British soldiers on a six-month tour to the front line in Afghanistan. It ended with one soldier dead and 12 seriously wounded…

Suddenly bullets came from the hedgerow where another group of Taleban were shooting from an angle that made the wall useless for cover. As the bullets came straight at us I told myself that the Taleban aren’t very good shots – and even if they were, their guns are old and inaccurate.

This film shows the depressing reality of the ongoing “war on terror”: endless skirmishes for tiny scraps of land, which are lost and must be retaken a few days or weeks later. Then there’s the rebuilding programme: every time the Queen’s Company calls in an airstrike to flush out the Taleban, they have to go through a protracted negotiation process with the local community to rebuild destroyed villages, and pay compensation to those who have lost family members.

Even worse, one senior British official is reported as saying that a significant UK presence in the country will be necessary for at least 30 years to ensure that the Taleban don’t regain control. Sobering stuff.

I really can’t recommend this film highly enough: if anything conveys the sheer monotonous horror of war, this does. Check out this clip on youtube for a taster.

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