Camp Victory, Afghanistan

Last week, I was fortunate to be able to watch a movie called Camp Victory, Afghanistan and speak to its director, Carol Dysinger.  The movie follows American ETT teams in Herat over several years as they train and advise an ANA unit.  Almost every scene reflects an experience true to my own in Khowst and Paktya.  Some were comical, such as scenes depicting American soldiers trying to get Afghans soldiers to perform to American standards on fitness tests and at firing ranges.  Others were poignant, especially those that portrayed Americans realizing that for all their own professional military expertise, their Afghan counterparts had much to teach them, too.  The film glowingly portrays a senior ANA officer, a General Sayer, as a man of deep wisdom, experience, practicality, and humanity, and mourns his death in a helicopter crash in January 2009.  A picture of General Sayer is below:

Camp Victory, Afghanistan is on the festival circuit, but has not yet found a distributor for general release.  I hope it at least becomes available through rentals or on PBS.  In my mind, it serves as a nice counterbalance to Restrepo.  Restrepo focuses on Americans involved in life-or-death combat on a small outpost and rarely features actual Afghans.  Camp Victory, Afghanistan documents the safer but slower and perhaps harder work of American advisors assisting Afghans develop their army and tries to measure the worthiness of the Afghans we are trying to help.

Speaking of Restrepo, in the news this week is a report that Americans beat back an attempt to overrun Spera COP, the Restrepo-like outpost manned by my ETT teams in Khowst.  The enemy casualty figures are said to be 27, mostly as a result of artillery and aircraft fire.  I can imagine well how the battle unfolded.  Though I was never under fire personally at Spera COP, I tracked by radio many engagements in which ETTs and ANA forces stationed there did battle with Taliban attackers.

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