This is one of the best documentaries about the war in Iraq from the soldiers perspective. Despite the criticism leveled at "embedded" journalism, the film-makers used this to their advantage to give a unique portrayal of life in an ordinary US unit "Dog Company" as they try to carry out their mission. The impression is that this mission is impossible. They are trying to police and rebuild a society that dissolving faster than they can rebuild it.
Several incidents stand out. A sergeant organizes the rebuilding of a market to facilitate local traders. It is impressive to see him knock heads together and slash through red tape to get the market physically built and serviced with electricity and water. Yet despite this when it is finished, he returns to find all the traders set up outside because a local strongman is charging exorbitant fees to use the market space.Another night a patrol is ambushed, a civilian is killed in a taxi. A second ambush and one of Dog Company is killed. The documentary does not dwell in sentimentality or patriotism. A local sheik is interrogated by a Captain, he looks bruised and he is clearly in great fear. Under threat of being arrested and sent to an internment camp, he gives names.
Later the company goes on a mission to search an area for illegal weapons and a soldier maliciously shoots a dog. A local Iraqi waves his hands in weary despair and then goes to comfort the dying animal.
It is strange, but despite the horror of dying civilians and soldiers it is this sticks most in my mind. The casual cruelty of the act contrasts shockingly with the earnest efforts of the other members of the company.
This documentary says more about the US mission in Iraq, its successes and failures, than a solid months worth of news reportage.
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