Tag Archives: afghanistan

Why the Obama Administration Won’t Release Pictures of Bin Laden

There are a lot of puzzled expressions on people’s faces when it comes to the subject of the late Osama Bin Laden and why the White House has not authorized the release of any pictures of his body.  Photographs and video were released of Saddam Hussein’s hanging as well as post-mortem pictures of his criminal sons, Uday and Qusay after Delta Force took them out.  Why not release a few pictures of public enemy #1 to prove that he is dead and show the world what happens when you take on the US of A?

Matt Bissonnette, one of the SEAL Team Six operators on the raid partially outs the reason in his book “No Easy Day.”  The book reads, “In his death throes, he was still twitching and convulsing. Another assaulter and I trained our lasers on his chest and fired several rounds. The bullets tore into him, slamming his body into the floor until he was motionless” (No Easy Day, Chapter 15).

But this is perhaps the most measured and polite description that one could give of how operator after operator took turns dumping magazines worth of ammunition into Bin Laden’s body.  When all was said and done, he had at least a hundred bullets in him by the most conservative estimate.

But was it illegal?  Under the Laws of Land Warfare, a soldier is fully authorized to put a few insurance rounds into his target after he goes down.  Provided the enemy is not surrendering, it is morally, legally, and ethically appropriate to shoot the body a few times to ensure that he is really dead and no longer a threat.  However, what happened on the Bin Laden raid is beyond excessive.  The level of excess shown was not about making sure that Bin Laden was no longer a threat.  The excess was pure self indulgence.

You may not care if Bin Laden got some extra holes punched in him, few of us do, but what should concern you is a trend within a certain special operations unit to engage in this type of self indulgent, and ultimately criminal behavior.  Gone unchecked, these actions get worse over time.  And they have.

The real issue is not that Bin Laden was turned into Swiss cheese but rather that this type of behavior has become a Standard Operating Procedure in this unit.

Now you know the real reason why the Obama administration has not released pictures of Osama Bin Laden’s corpse.  To do so would show the world a body filled with a ridiculous number of gunshot wounds.  The picture itself would cause an international scandal and investigations would be conducted which would uncover certain activities which took place on the OBL objective as well as other operations, activities which many will do anything to keep buried.

And now you also know why the administration would pretend to dispose of Bin Laden’s body at sea.

Of course, these attitudes and behaviors do not come out of nowhere.  Endless back to back deployments, PTSD, broken families, and war itself all plays into it.  There is also another reason, one that the military has papered over and that I only dare to write about as fiction for reasons which will become apparent.

I stress that the below account is a work of fiction which only represents actual events.  Names and specifics are completely altered.

Excerpted from Direct Action:

Afghanistan, 2005:

Navy Chief David McAtee was alive when the jihadists moved in. They were Chechens. Foreign fighters who had over run the hide site he had occupied. With three teammates, he had tried to escape and evade down the side of the mountain. There were simply too many of them for him and his recon team to successfully break contact and escape.

Chief McAtee was alive when the enemy started picking over his body, beginning to strip him of his weapons and equipment to divide amongst themselves. Shot through one lung, both legs, and through his cheek, he was in no condition to defend himself. His arm was limp; he couldn’t even feel any sensation in it as one of the Chechens undid the clasp on his wrist watch and then let his arm flop to the ground.

Chief McAtee was alive when the Chechens cut the gear off his body and yanked away his M4 rifle off by its sling. He struggled to breath. His three comrades were dead, that much he knew for sure. He had watched them die one by one. Now, he knew that they were better off.

Chief McAtee was alive when the knives came out and they began the cutting.

* * *

Wind howled down the side of the mountain. Snow-streaked crags of rock poked up from beneath the white ground, forcing the team to negotiate their way around them. The windswept mountain was an even bigger obstacle than the enemy, the terrain slowing them as they moved uphill through knee-deep snow.

Master Chief Bill Geddes saw the world through a green-tinted lens. The PVS-14 Night Optical Device limited both his depth perception and his field of vision but he was walking point and needed to be able to see the enemy before they saw him. Although the wind was blowing snow drifts off the side of the mountain, the night was clear with a full moon hanging over their heads. The added illumination would make it easier for the Master Chief to spot the enemy, but it would also make it easier for the enemy to see his team.

For what seemed like the hundredth time, he wiped snow off the lens of his NODs so that he could see.

The word to describe their current mission was anger. As members of Naval Special Warfare Development Group, commonly known as SEAL Team Six, they had been assigned to lay up in a hide site over a valley and watch for suspected enemy activity. Intelligence indicated that large numbers of foreign fighters were moving from Pakistan to Afghanistan through the valley, and the brass up at the Joint Operations Center in Bagram wanted a heads-up as to what was coming their way.

A second reconnaissance team, led by Chief McAtee, had occupied another overwatch position where they had a vantage point over a section of the road running through the valley that Bill’s team couldn’t cover. Four hours ago, McAtee’s hide site had been compromised. From what they could gather from the radio transmissions, the team had been on the run ever since. Two hours ago, they had lost radio contact with McAtee’s team altogether. Bagram couldn’t get them on comms and neither could Bill.

A Troops in Contact call had been sent over the net, but higher said it was a no-go. There was a storm moving in and they could not risk flying in close air support or the SEAL platoon that had been standing by as a Quick Reaction Force. Last month a CH-47 filled with Rangers had been shot out of the sky by the Taliban. It had turned into a big fiasco on the news networks back home and now the commanders were risk adverse about sending in helicopters on another rescue mission.

They could write off a small four-man recce team, but another downed CH-47 could cost some Colonel his star.

Pissed. That was another adjective that described how he felt, Bill thought to himself.

Since the cavalry wasn’t coming and they had no overhead surveillance, Bill decided to take the initiative. His four man recce team abandoned their hide side and began trudging through the snow towards the last known location of McAtee’s team.

Bill and his men had hardly slept since occupying the hide site several days prior. Now they were dehydrated from snaking their way up the side of the mountain. Most of them were big guys, weight lifters with a lot of upper body strength. Now they were paying the price as those large muscles required a lot of oxygen during exertion, oxygen that wasn’t available at high altitudes. They were exhausted, but Bill knew that as SEALs, there was no way they would turn around, no way they would quit, not without bringing their comrades home with them.

His legs dragging trails behind him, Bill was perhaps the most tired of all as he was up front breaking through the thick snow and making their route selection. Time seemed to standstill in the night, their faces having gone numb from the cold wind, their heads beginning to hang as sleep deprivation set in. Maybe it was another forty five minutes, maybe an hour and a half. During the after action review, Bill was unable to recall with any clarity when he saw the four silhouettes in the night.

The Master Chief could see them clearly through his PVS-14s from several hundred meters out. They wore thick jackets and Afghan pakol caps on their heads. The four of them had AK-47 rifles slung over their backs as they squatted, huddled around something. There was no camp fire. Adjusting the focus on his night-vision monocle, Bill could see their long ratty beards blowing in the wind.

The firefight was nothing spectacular. The SEAL Team Six operator had his men get on line and they opened fire as one, cutting down the four enemy fighters in half a second. No fancy tactics were going to be applied with the men exhausted and in such difficult terrain, and none were needed. Their M4 rifles cracked through the night. Two of the jihadists dropped like marionettes that had their strings suddenly cut. Another was struck in the shoulder, then tried to get back up and run until Bill emptied the rest of his magazine into the jihadist’s back. The last fell face-first into the snow. At first he tried to push himself back up, then thought better of it, laid back down, and promptly died.

Bill dropped his expended magazine, inserted a full one, and dropped the bolt on his M4 to chamber the first round. The other three SEALs on his team did the same.

Moving forward, the mountain planed out into a small ledge. As they grew closer, the SEALs put a few insurance shots into the Chechens just to make sure they were well and truly dead. Closing on the bodies, the SEALs were able to see what the enemy had been crouching around. Bill slung his rifle and ran to the prostrate form. Laying face down, the snow around Chief McAtee had been stained a dark shade of crimson.

The seam down the back of McAtee’s fatigues had been sliced open with a knife. His ass was bloody where the enemy had been sodomizing him. Bill took a knee and rolled his friend over on to his back. Reilly, the team medic, dropped his aid bag and began digging through its contents.

As Bill rolled McAtee onto his back, his blood ran colder than the wind blasting down the side of the mountain. McAtee convulsed in his arms, in a deep state of shock. He was not conscious but still technically alive. When Bill cradled his friend in his arms, the SEAL’s head hinged backwards with a jagged second mouth opening at the neck. McAtee was shaking in his arms.

Reilly crouched over him with bandages, but there was nothing he could do. He was a Special Operations trained medic, but felt utterly useless as his comrade’s condition was beyond anything he could begin to treat in an emergency room much less on the side of a mountain during a blizzard. They could hear McAtee gurgling as he struggled to breath.

Finally, the ravaged SEAL convulsed for the last time and lay dead in Bill’s arms. The four SEALs stared at the ground in shock. Each of them was a veteran of countless battles. Ship seizures in the Persian Gulf, covert operations in Somalia, targeted killings in Colombia, and direct action raids in Afghanistan, but none of them had ever experienced anything like this. This was different. This was crossing a line from which they could not return.

Bill laid McAtee down in the snow. Digging into his kit he found a space blanket that he used to cover the remains with. He then began camouflaging the body under snow with the other SEALs joining in. Reilly got out his GPS and wrote down a ten-digit grid location, marking where the body was cached. A snow storm was quickly blowing in from the west.

Getting to his feet, Bill slung his rifle in front of him and looked up the side of the mountain. They had three more SEALs to recover. They were up there, somewhere. With the Chechens.

Bill looked over his shoulder at his recce team. His gaze cut right through them.

“From this day forward,” he shouted over the wind. “It is an eye for an eye.”

The SEALs nodded.

“Every single day. For McAtee and the rest.”

Master Chief Bill Geddes ground his teeth and stepped off in search of the others.

“Its blood for blood,” he yelled up the mountain at anyone who would listen.

Three SEALs followed close behind their team leader, walking in the footprints he made in the snow.

Soon, the four operators disappeared into the snow storm.

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Invading Afghanistan with ODA 555: Part I

ODA 555 in Afghanistan

I’m proud to present to SOFREP readers this special interview with Scott Zastrow about his experiences with ODA 555 during the initial invasion of Afghanistan.  Scott was an 18D (Special Forces Medic) on his Special Forces team and was among the first boots on the ground in country on October 19th, 2001.  This will be the first of a two-part interview, and maybe I can twist Scott’s arm into having him come back again to tell us more of this incredible history of Green Beret’s waging Unconventional Warfare during the opening salvo of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Tell us about what prompted you to join the Army in the first place, and Special Forces in particular?

I was raised in the Midwest where there is a lot of Patriotism and American pride. My father and brother had both been in the Army, so it was an easy choice for me to make.

I went to Germany as a medic right out of Basic/AIT, and luckily landed in a unit with a handful of guys I trained with. Like most young soldiers, we took to drinking, fighting and trying to find love in the local pubs. We had this asshole PLT SGT who was your standard E-6 with 24 years in, three ex-wives and a couple DUIs. He lived in the barracks with us and made our lives hell daily, but it turns out that’s exactly what we needed. I owe that crew a lot to the man I am now. The first month I was there, I was supposed to cover a road march for one of the Scout Platoons and was told to link up with the PSG the day before. I asked him what they were carrying and where to meet and he said they were running 65lb rucks and were starting at 0500 at the motor pool. So the next morning I showed up with my 65lb ruck at the motor pool and jumped in with the PLT. Halfway through the ruck, the PLT LDR came up to me and asked me where my weapon was, and I told him I didn’t have one, that no one told me to get it. Well, he flipped, he started screaming at me for being such a dumbass, and I felt like one. Who doesn’t bring a weapon on a road march? I knew he was going to tell my PSG and I was going to get killed, great way to start my Army career. The PSG came over to help him scuff me up and he noticed who I was. “Sir, that’s our medic,” while I’m in the front leaning rest; under-ruck. “Oh, sorry, Doc. Get up. Thought you were one of our guys. Normally the medic follows behind us in the ambulance, good for you for walking. Catch back up with the boys.” As I ran back up to the PLT, all I could think about was why no one told me I could be driving behind them instead of walking with this ridiculous weight on my back for 12 miles. Then the word got out there was this new high-speed medic in the unit and anytime someone went out dismounted, they requested me by name, not knowing I was just stupid, not hard. We had an old 18D as our PA in that unit and after hearing his stories and watching him do his job, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. He held us to a higher standard and that became our minimum standard, which was a great thing to learn at that young age.

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Polish Commandos getting it done in Afghanistan

Here at Kit Up! we have been covering the Polish Special Forces units quite a bit and I’m happy to do it.  I’ve written in the past about Poland’s 1st Special Forces Regiment and David Reeder just had a cool article the other day about Polish SF training with the Indian military.  One of my sources recently came through with some information that has been vetted for OPSEC by those familiar with these operations, and as you can see, Polish SF is embracing the FID mission in Afghanistan.

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The unofficial 18B Handbook

Ever wonder what kind of material a Special Forces soldier needs to reference in the field?  I made my own 18B hand book so I would have critical information on hand while overseas.  Read about it at Kit Up!

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Attack Helicopter Piggyback

What the hell is going on here?  Read my article about it at Kit Up!

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Featured Interview: Jeremy Rodriguez, Third Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment

Today I have another exclusive interview, this time from former team mate, Jeremy Rodriguez.  When I was a Team Leader in Weapons Squad in Ranger Battalion, Jeremy was one of my privates.  After I left to go to Special Forces, Jeremy remained with the platoon for several more rotations.  I think this interview will be an eye opener for many people who don’t really know or understand what life in Ranger Battalion is really like.

Please introduce us to your background and what prompted you to join the Army?

I was a normal kid raised in a very conservative family in north Texas. I wrestled growing up for different schools and leagues. I will never forget what brought me to the military and that was my sophomore year in high school and watching those planes fly into those towers. Even if we were to go to war again to this day I would have no problem fighting for this country again.

Did you sign on with a Option 40 (Ranger contract) or volunteer while in basic training or airborne school? Why did you want to become a Ranger?

When I knew I wanted to fight for this country I knew I wanted to do something in special operations although I had no IDEA what special operations was other than watching Black Hawk Down.

All potential Rangers must pass the Ranger Indoctrination Program, or RIP, a type of selection course that separates the men from the boys. What was that experience like for you?

HAHA it was horrible. I went through RIP in the dead of winter which they totally used against us. Rather than just the usual “smoke” us all day and make us exhausted they used the weather against us. Stand in formation for hours upon hours in the freezing ran in nothing but pts and then Cole Range was a total mind fuck. The mind games were much more overwhelming than the pt. The only cover we had for sleep was the cover we shared with our ranger buddy and what little sleep we had.

I will say one thing though…. RIP was a million times easier than being a new private in Ranger Battalion with a spawn of Satan as a team leader.

How is Ranger battalion different from other infantry units?

This was something that I never EVER had a clear answer to but people always asked me until I left active duty and got into a national guard infantry unit. Its very simple… discipline!!! Its as easy as that. You discipline your men if they cant take it or conform they quit or get kicked out.

What duty positions did you hold in battalion and for how long? What responsibilities did each entail?

My entire career in Ranger Battalion was spent in a weapons squad which I enjoyed more than anything. I knew weapons squad inside and out (thanks to a hard ass team leader) and I honestly loved it. I went from an ammo bitch to a gunner to a machine gun team leader. I also went from being a Stryker driver to a gunner to a TC [Tactical Commander or Tank Commander], which honestly was probably one of my favorite jobs. On my last deployment I was in charge of a Carl Gustav team Which was also an amazing job since I was probably the only one in the platoon that knew the Gustav inside and out.

Where were you deployed and what type of missions did you conduct with your platoon?

I deployed three times once to Afghanistan and twice to Iraq. I conducted a number of different types of mission but my most memorable was from my last deployments and do what we called “call outs” and shooting Gustav rounds into these houses that didn’t comply.

What type of training did you conduct in Ranger battalion? How much of it was quality training that you felt equated to what you saw on the battlefield?

I will say the training in battalion was rough and sometimes didn’t always make sense, but looking back now it makes all the sense. Those hard training missions that lasted forever and pushed you beyond what limit you thought you had and brought you together as a platoon squad and team meant was battalions gravy. Some of the training was just a suck fest and ALOT of it was related to combat operations.

How many parachute jumps do you think you conducted while in Battalion? What did you usually jump with?

38 jumps in battalion. Ehhhh I hated jumping. I’ve jumped almost damn near everything except a mortar. Being with a weapons squad and also with an AT squad.  I’d say most of my jumps toward the end consisted of my m-4 and things I needed for my gun team. Extra barrels, tri-pod, swivel, 7.62, LSA, and other things for a heavy weapon.

Any advice for cherry jumpers out there?

I HATEEEED JUMPING… and I’m insanely scared of heights but its as simply as this. If you die from a jump you’ll never know…cause you’ll be dead. AND STAY AWAY FROM MY CHUTE WHEN IM FALLING OR ILL KICK UR ASS WHEN I LAND.

What weapons and equipment did you typically carry on missions? What did your packing list consist of and how did it change as you matured as a soldier?

I laugh when I read this question coming from you because I remember my first mission ever with you. You made me carry 1000 7.62 rounds in an assault pack in a three man team. I will never forgive you for that hahahaha, and I will always remember the look on your face when you yelled at me for sucking on that mission then grabbing my assault pack and thinking it would be lite then seeing your face when you realized “Holy fuck this is heavy”. As a ammo bitch and machine gun TL I carried an M4 and various other things for the gun. Lube tr-pods rounds you name it. As I matured as a soldier I realized I could condense my packing list to my needs and more importantly my teams needs but also travel light. I quickly learned I HATED being cold and no matter what I carried some sort of quick cold weather gear and I also learned that just because the OPORDER says the mission will take this long it doesn’t mean so… so I always had some extra snacks for me and my team which always helps for long days. The modern soldier will also never forget his batteries hahaha.

If you can, please summarize your deployments and give us a thumb nail sketch of what each was like:

First Iraq deployment to Mosul. Mostly driving and maintaining a Stryker. A mix of day and night missions and the heat inside of those Strykers during the day was insane. Second deployment was something different. I hurt myself in Afghanistan and didn’t recover as fast as I would of liked. Third deployment was spent in Iraq Samara providence and consisted of all helo mission and a lot of call outs and a lot of walking. A thumb nail sketch of a combat deployment could never do justice, I’ve written a lot about those 3 and if you desire my notes I’ll give them to you.

I recall that during the deployment we were on together that you drove a Stryker armored vehicle. How would you rate the Stryker?

The Stryker was an amazing vehicle and I fell in love with it. I knew that vehicle inside in out by the time I left battalion. I’ve seen that thing go through hell and back and with a good crew its unstoppable.

What was the average day like for you in Ranger battalion? Deployment and in garrison, work and recreation?

An average day differed from where I was in my career. As a new private and average day was going to be me getting smoked for hours proving myself and being a sponge and taking in all knowledge of a weapons squad. As I grew more senior and proved myself battalion was whatever you made it. You wanted to learn anything you had the chance to. Deployment were great, I called them a vacation from garrison. Work was tough but that’s the point you are an Airborne Ranger…. your gonna do some hard work.

I know we had some good times back in the day, tell us what is the funniest and most absurd moment that stands out in your mind?

HAHA Jack we had some insane times and some of those I don’t think I should type out, but if you really want me to get with me later and Ill send you a separate message.

What is the most dangerous moment that stands out in your mind? Any missions that were particularly hairy?

I remember only ONE situation I was very worried about… A mission on my last deployment in the Samara area going to a house in the middle of nowhere. As we walk up to this house (that we later found out was rigged to blow) we start to find caves dug into the ground. Holes big enough to drive a truck into. At first we found one in the area but then we found we were surrounded by these things and there was movement and lights coming from in them. We quickly fell back and called for fire.

What was your opinion of the quality of leadership in Ranger battalion? (You can feel free to be brutally honest here since I was your team leader for a time, but I’m also interested in what you thought of the higher echelons).

You might not agree with me Jack but I’ve thought about this a lot. Standing there and looking up sometimes it never made sense but not standing here looking back I can see why we did what we did and why it came down from the level it did. BUT I will say this…. There was several times where everyone was like “WTF IS GOING ON AND WHY THE FUCK” but I think it was all to keep us on our toes.

How did the insurgents fight? What were their tactics and what types of weapons did they typically carry?

Their “tactics” outside of the IED was almost none…The shoot and just pray to hit something and get away with it seemed like their way of fight. Honestly…cowards.

At the end of the day how effective, or ineffective, do you feel Ranger battalion is as a fighting force on the battlefield? What did they bring to the fight, or fail to bring to it in your opinion?

Ranger battalion will kick your door in punch you and your family and the face and feel no remorse. That’s the point of a Ranger Battalion and damn well should be. War ain’t pretty and Rangers don’t give a fuck. You use the words fight so I will assume you mean FIGHT… Ranger Battalion brought the FIGHT to the fight… then overran it and destroyed it and left no fight to be had… again the point of Rangers.

Are there any tips and ticks of the trade that you can share with us that you won’t find in any book or military manual?

Take care of every man next to you and care just as much about their life as you do about yours. I’ve experienced a bad leader in a time of combat and by bad leader I don’t mean tactically I mean over his men… you don’t want to be in his shoes. His men hate him and could care less about taking that extra step to saving his life. Hard to say it and its hard to hear but its true… don’t be that guy.

Are there any misconceptions about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or about Ranger battalion that you would like to clear up for the public?

I haven’t heard any rumors and don’t really listen to these types of things.. If you wanna experience some shit then go find out yourself

How did you part ways with Ranger battalion and what did you do afterwords? Why did you decide to leave?

Real simple. I left for my family and simply because I didn’t want to end up as crazy as I knew I already was

Feel free to share any final thoughts about your time in the military, about war, or life in general:

I’m at a loss for words… I could never sway a man into war but at the same time I could never talk him out of honoring his country and/or those before him…Your heart will make those decisions.

Thanks for a great interview Jeremy!

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Movie Review: 9 Rota (9th Company)

I just recently became aware of a Russian film about the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and found it streaming on Netflix.  Although the movie begins with an ominous “From The Ministry of Culture and Art” this film was apparently fairly controversial in Russia and wasn’t merely a state-sponsored propaganda movie.  In fact, it didn’t at all shy away from the horrors of Russia’s war in Afghanistan.

“9 Rota” or “9th Company” in English has also warranted comparisons to “Full Metal Jacket”, about America’s Cold War quagmire in Vietnam.  Like Kubrick’s film, 9 Rota begins with the intake of young Russian conscripts and proceeds to follow them through their training is Uzbekistan before the recruits are shipped off to Afghanistan.  Like Arleigh Ermy’s character in Full Metal Jacket, the Drill Sergeant in 9 Rota puts the recruits through hell, taking them through one torture session after the next.  There are some funny moments as well, the recruits engaging in the usual hijinx that you would expect from young soldiers.

I’m sure that some people will feel that the makers of 9 Rota directly lifted the format from Full Metal Jacket, but I think its important to acknowledge to commonalities that soldiers share, often crossing over and between different nations and cultures.  Although this movie is about Russian soldiers fighting in Afghanistan in 1988, I experienced much of the same as an American soldier fighting in Afghanistan in 2004.  The first arrival in Bagram Airfield was especially familiar as I recall my first glimpse of the mountains as the aircraft’s ramp lowered, much like in this film.

Hand to hand combat “training”.

Although I really liked this movie, I felt that it got a little melodramatic at times.  The plight of the Russian people is deeply embedded in the psyche of Russians to this day (take a look at Russian literature) but it felt like they laid it on a little thick in some parts.  In one scene, the Drill Sergeant has his request to return to the front lines denied, causing him to have a breakdown.  I respect what the director is trying to portray, the fact that soldiers have a very difficult time reintegrating after returning from war, but this took it a little far:

Big Drill crying his eyes out in a poppy field because Sov High Command won’t let him go back into the shit.

Arriving in Afghanistan, the soldiers are tasked to man a remote outpost in Khowst Province (also where I was stationed in ’04) to protect vital Russian supply routes.  This portion of the movie is based on a true story.  I’m going to have to do some more research on this topic to find out what really went down, but in the film the Russian outpost is overrun by the Mujahedin leaving a single soldier as the lone survivor.

Shit gets pretty real when the Muj mass their forces and over run a Russian forward base.

The combat scenes were very well done in my opinion and give the viewer a decent idea of what the Russians were facing in Afghanistan.  CGI nonsense is kept to a minimum if used at all, that’s right, you get real explosions in this movie not cartoon like computer graphics like in most American movies these days.  The war fighting is intense and brutal as the Muj attacks in wave after wave towards the end of the film.

There are some other scenes that are funny and point out the absurd nature of war.  The Russian soldiers are very familiar with the Afghan who comes to attack their outpost every so often with his tribal buddies.  They shout insults at each other from one mountain outcropping to the other before exchanging automatic gunfire.  There was also one fairly bizarre scene where the young recruits are running a train on the nurse’s daughter at their training base.  This scene seems to stretch on for 15 minutes and ends with the Russian soldiers worshiping this barracks whore as their “Venus” and prostrating themselves in front of her.  I guess this was some kind of metaphor for the death of innocence before the young men were shipped off to war.  Whatever…

Despite some of the melodrama mentioned above this was a pretty good movie and completely unique from other war films I’ve seen.  I’m glad that someone finally took the time to make a flick about this very unpopular conflict.

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