Documentary following NATO's commander in chief General Richards in Afghanistan as he assumes command over 12,000 American troops and 20,000 NATO soldiers on the frontline of the War on Terror.
With unprecedented access, the documentary charts the general's day to day life as he makes life and death decisions and negotiates the many diplomatic minefileds required to hold together a multi-national force from 37 countries. The general knows he has only the winter months to prove to the Afghan people that NATO can beat the Taleban and is on the side of the Afghan people.
The general warns of the dire international consequences of failure, admits that NATO has just a few months to avoid catastrophe and fires a warning shot to his replacement US Army General Dan McNeill to get over the perception that American forces are all about killing.
Directed by Olly Lambert, with veteran foreign correspondent Sam Kiley and narrated by Jason Isaacs.
Decent programme, though it annoyed the hell out of me that they didn't caption the HQ staff (nitpicking). TB clearly on full smarm mode in front of the camera and gets a big thumbs up from another general in two days (see the Blair programme on Kosovo, Sierra Leone et al last night). Would have liked to hear what they said in private...
Most interesting moment was the withdrawal of the Canadian team from PRT work to warfighting- nice piece of letting the event do the talking from the journalists.
And why did the Boche Comd have a British accent?!
I understand where you are coming from on this MB. However, remember that Gen Richards is/was commanding a multi-national force, so he will have so many different rules to play with. When in Rome, as the saying goes.
Good programme though and he came across quite well as a thoughtful person, but I did get the feeling that there was a huge amount of edit to show the good side involved.
Just a pity that fuckwit Bliar had to get his neb in.
You could really feel the frustration of some of those Canuks just 'cos they could not get a few spark plugs.
A good programme, informative yet bloody annoying, how strange to see a squaddie removing the slightest of marks from the floors prior to the lying ba stard otherwise known as Blair arriving for a "good will visit".
I agree about the comment regarding the drinking though, the guys are slogging it out on the rough whilst the upper echelons discuss the merits of having run out of vintage champagne,
I have taped it, to watch tomorrow, but as far as alcohol was concerned, the HQ ISAF compound was a mare due to different national caveats. The 'guidance' from the Boss was 'be responsible', but practice ranged from US - "No alcohol, period" to the Germans - "Ve have our own Support Unit bar and ve'll do vat ve want". In a truly multinational enclosed community such as HQ ISAF, this whole area is a toughie, but thankfully the majority of time was 'alcoholically uneventful'.
Disagree re the lunchtime drinking - seems to me that a key part of the General's role here is smoothing ruffled feathers, keeping everyone on side & working together. It's the norm in Latin cultures to imbibe a little with your lunch, and it would have done nothing but insult the host units if Gen Richards had gone all po-faced on them re alcohol and declined their hospitality.
He indicated clearly that the trickiest part of the job was keeping a force from 37 nations (each with different levels of commitment from respective govts) on task - note his comments re his new appreciation for Eisenhower's skill in this regard; and Ike didn't, one suspects, have anything like as many differences re strategy/ purpose, tactics etc to contend with! IMO, this is a non issue (although it wasn't perhaps great PR) - it's not as though they were getting hog whimpering drunk, FFS: it was clear that whilst making lots of appreciative comments etc, the good General, in fact, only took modest sips of the various wines proffered, and I bet most of it actually stayed in the glasses - or found its way (discreetly!) into some nearby potted plant!
Thought the SSGT bodyguard made a very good impression when forced momentarily, and reluctantly, into the "limelight".
Yes it was.
This programme was horribly reminiscent of Vietnam......looks like the same methods and tactics.........only no jungle this time!!!!!!
When will we learn that not all people want to be like us?
While I only watched the first half (wife/Coronation Street/embarrassment!!!!), I was concerend at the 'slant' of the programme. I thought it was shaped to try to lend a sense of hopelessness and futility to the whole Afghan enterprise and wonder if those watching from an Army background might miss seeing how less sympathetic viewers might have interpreted the programme.
We were shown General Richards making a speech and the sound recordist made more of the overhead helicopters than those present would have heard of them with the PA system. Merely dramatic effect? Spliced with a major emphasis on the security backdrop to the visit and speech I thought it was trying to give the aforementioned sense of futility and verged on taking the p*** out of the whole business.
Similarly the Candian effort to get spark plugs, which was ultimately fruitless. The editing of Richards' joke about 'only' visiting the Italians and Spanish for a good feed added to soud bites of inconsequential lunchtime chit chat and the wine supping all conspired (and I use that word advisedly) to give a sort of 'while Rome burned' impression.
The lunch and wine, when set against the Canuck unpacking his crisps while the woman Sergeant received F.A., the time and effort which had to be given to Blair's grandstanding compared with the seemingly insurmountable problem of getting a village's generator up and running, all seemed to be designed to make an implicit statement.
I think posters here to date have shown more understanding of what they were shown than many viewers will have had. Given that a British audience were shown Canadian and not British mud and sweat (which, admittedly, may have been a matter of access) I think a 'lions led by donkeys' impression may have been given to those with 'Blimpish' assumptions about the military leadership.
Sorry, not as happy with the programme as most. They say 'no publicity is bad publicity' but I worry about this and its possible implications for support future of British operations.
Any editorial opinion about the ineffectuality of the campaign, for me, was achieved by suggesting, unfairly, the ineffectuality of the individuals filmed.