The Fighting Season: Ricky Schroder’s Documentary on the Fight in Afghanistan is Awesome Cinematography!

by Jeremy Griffith
The American Millennium


Jeremy Griffith, the creator of The American Millennium Online.

Jeremy Griffith, the creator of The American Millennium Online.

Two thumbs way up for the first two episodes of The Fighting Season by executive producer Ricky Schroder. All through the two first episodes I was shouting at the TV non-stop and cheering the Soldiers and their leaders and booing their vile opponents. I felt like I was watching a melodrama, except the action was very real!

The Fighting Season is following elements of the 10th Mountain and the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan as they have a two fold mission there, roll up the carpet and leave things to the local nationals, and continue to fight the enemy insurgents until their last day in country. I appreciated the vignettes transitioning from the warfighters on the ground actually putting rounds on target and taking fire from insurgents, to the American Colonel mentoring the Afghani National Police, to the officers and staff planning the operations. Every aspect of the war effort is covered in this documentary. It is taught and insightful and brutal.

I appreciated one scene early on that was part of an interview with a young captain who was the brigade intelligence officer. He was explaining that the fight we are involved in now in Afghanistan is not against an insurgency that wants to win back their nation and drive out invaders. These opponents are a brutal mob who wants to gain control of the country and restore the brutal regime that was in place before; the one that prevented girls from going to school, who had women in basic slavery day in and day out and would kill Soldiers and civilians, anyone that doesn’t bend to their regressive point of view.

Watching this extraordinary documentary had me emotional even as I think of recent events in Iraq where I served as part of the surge back in 2007. The fall of Ramadi in Iraq is a significant set back for the United States and the world. ISIS is now on the door step of Baghdad and as such, will no doubt take over the country very soon. It illustrates clearly how the successes gained through the blood and tears of our fighting men and women can be so easily lost by short sighted and arrogant politicians.

This is not about war, this is war! – quote from the Ricky Schroder made for TV documentary “The Fighting Season”.

But we are 14 years down the road, I get that, and people are tired of sending young men and women to die in foreign theaters. I get it. In the end of the day, Afghanistan and Iraq has to fight for themselves and maintain the gains that we have given them, we cannot safeguard them forever. So it’s heart-rending to watch the news as thousands of civilians flee ISIS on foot in the heat even as their military and police forces drop their weapons and run.

I think about and fear for the lives of three hundred plus Marines currently stationed at Al Asaad Airbase in Iraq who are there to train the Iraqi Army and police and find themselves surrounded by ISIS. I wonder if they will find relief soon, able to leave their mission before they are unable to leave and are overwhelmed by the terrorists, forced to fight to the last man. Remember that this administration has left people die before, abandoning Ambassador Stevens and four of his brave protection detail in Benghazi, Libya. Will this administration do that again to the Marines and other support personnel now in Iraq?

I worry about the 3rd BCT, 4th ID now stationed in Kuwait out of Fort Carson, Colorado. Is this heavy brigade going to go over the berm into Iraq to relieve those Marines? What dangers will they face? Or will Barack Obama keep them in Kuwait doing training exercises and watching over the berm with bated breath? Will Obama unleash the dogs of war or will he keep them chained?

Ricky Schroader and his team of producers and documentarians have in my mind created the greatest war documentary since Restrepo and Brothers At War. In the first and second episodes I could see, actually see AK-47 rounds pass between the Soldiers and the filmakers as they are taking cover behind thin trees and tall grass. Meanwhile, many miles away, an army Major and his staff at the tactical operations center is listening to radio traffic and watching the action through the eyes of drones even as they try to direct air support to relieve the besieged platoon on the ground.

“This is not “Call Of Duty”! -quote from “The Fighting Season”

In another Vignette, an Army Colonel mentoring the Afghan National Police is driving in convoy with his men and checking checkpoints to make sure the locals are executing their duties properly. Traffic is intense and the Soldiers heads are on swivels, looking out for trouble. The colonel gets out of the vehicle, to the chagrine and horror of his men and he engages local businessmen in the bazaar, buying fruit from the vendors and talking to them about local issues. The men chastise him, fearful he is putting himself at risk unnecessarily. The colonel just laughs them off saying, “you can’t do this job staying in the car! They have to see you doing the job.”

A female Army captain speaks at one point about her work with Afghan women. The strict rules of conduct in that country forbid men to search or even talk to strange women, so the nation is training women police officers and female Soldiers like this young Army Captain is mentoring them. The captain talks about her role as an advisor and shares her admiration for the leader of the local police, a woman of renown, who has championed women’s and human rights in the country.

Meanwhile, at one of the Forward Operating Base, the commander of a brigade combat team of the All American 82nd Airborne is planning an op in a beleaguered part of the country. The snow has melted in the mountains and foreign and local insurgents are returning to fight, the fighting season has begun. The colonel coaches his men through the Army’s military decision making process, MDMP as they come up with courses of action for the spring and summer campaign. He rejects the early COA he receives and tells the staff to go back to the drawing board. The colonel presents a final draft of the plan to his boss, a one-star general who is the deputy commander of the task force. Problems are found in the air logistics piece of the plan; the unit is taking too many turns, about 8 round trips, in helicopters to get to the objective. The brigadier is concerned that the unit might be telegraphing their intent and making themselves too easy a target for insurgents with rocket propelled grenades. The planners of the 82nd are pushed back to their offices to revise the plan once again.

Meanwhile, a female First Sergeant, in charge of logistics for the upcoming mission, is trying to figure out how to best provide material support. She’s loading containers of supplies and equipment for air movement and the containers have become too heavy. She’s got to double check the packing list inside to see what’s in there and what can be removed, and one of her knuckle-heads has misplaced the key to the container lock. She’s pissed, swearing up a blue streak to subordinates on the phone. They better get this right or there will be a woman’s wrath and Hell to pay.

I really like this series and I can’t wait to watch the last three episodes on this week on Audience on Direct TV. I highly recommend it. I covers all aspects of the operations, from the Soldiers on the ground to the planners and leaders, and to the logisticians who almost never get credit for their very important work in providing support for the meat-eaters and trigger pullers. I like how the filmakers are hardly ever heard from in the movie and they allow the stories to be told from the point of view of the servicemen and women.

Mr. Schroder and his small team took enormous risk with this documentary, putting themselves in harm’s way to film it. The film is beautifully shot and amazingly dramatic. This should win an award and I recommend anyone see it who has had a loved one in a combat zone and has asked the question, “what is it like over there?” This series answers that question beautifully and I can’t wait to see the rest. Huah!

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Who should apologize for burning Korans?

Iraqi Horseman in front of the Ziggurat of Ur - artist unknown

by Jeremy Griffith

When Korans were burned inside a jail at Baghram Airbase in Afghanistan on Feb. 21, the local populace was so enraged at the desecration that they rioted for days, according to the Huffington Post. In the violence that ensued, 25 have been killed and more than 100 injured, including four Americans murdered inside a well-guarded Interior Ministry says .

Local Muslims made the discovery after finding the burnt pieces of the Koran in the rubbish. According to a column in the Daily Caller, officials say soldiers at the base were ordered to discard the books after detainees wrote codes on the pages in order to transmit secret messages to one another, a practice that takes place in many corrections institutions around the world, including the United States.

The Army Commander of the Afghan theater Lt. Gen. Allen as well as the President of the United States have apologized for the destruction of the books, but that has done nothing to quell the unrest. Afghan President Hamid Karzai and leaders of the Taliban have demanded the apology from US leaders.

The Millennium doesn’t condone the willful desecration of holy books and artifacts, but we will ask the question, who needs to apologize? We  agree that someone should apologize, but it is not the Americans!

Muslims always show feigned outrage whenever someone insults the prophet or draws a controversial cartoon or criticizes the practices of Islam. Most of these reactions are way over the top and involve violence. Yet, the Muslims never apologize for their outright disrespect for religions of others. In fact, they are outright contemptuous, destroying holy sites and building mosques on top of them, burning Bibles and other holy writings, desecrating Jewish Shrines, and destroying Buddhist Statues. Sometimes their outrage includes murder, like when the body of a filmmaker critical to Islam was found outside his home with a Muslim manifesto stapled to his chest.

Muslims should get a grip on themselves and stop with the murder and violence every time someone does something, purposely or not, to insult their religion. There are ways past that don’t involve murder. A  life is more important than the pages of a book.

See related stories at the links below.


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Despite the POTUS’s claims, Obama is a War-Time President

Number of UAV Strikes soars under Obama

by Jeremy Griffith

The first casualty of American wars seems to be our 5-minute attention span. As we sleepily drift back to our regular lives and mass media entertainment consumption, President Obama ramps up the War on Terror while quietly reneging on his campaign promise to disentangle us from foreign wars. The President should own up and tell us the truth, that he really is a warrior Commander-in-Chief.

During the campaign, candidate Obama promised the American people he would not be engaging in wasteful wars and nation-building. That promise was so similar to the promises of George W. Bush during his first campaign that it is painful to watch.

Both presidents have ditched their campaign promises to pursue war overseas. With Bush in those early days after 9/11, Americans were caught up in patriotic fervor and needed both consolation and revenge. Bush obliged with two land campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq and a decade’s long occupation of both.

Obama promised to disengage from foreign wars as a candidate but stressed the need to provide civilian aid to failing countries. A campaign position paper put out by the Obama campaign illustrates his position, stating, “Barack Obama believes that strengthening weak states at risk of collapse, economic meltdown or public health crises strengthens America’s security. Obama will double U.S. spending on foreign aid to $50 billion a year by 2012.”

Obama the candidate de-emphasized the role of the military in nation building, choosing instead to concentrate on civilian aid and diplomacy. While he has increased aid to foreign countries, he has also engaged the military more. While he has come through on his promise to redeploy troops from Iraq, Obama has increased the field of battle by one theater, committing the Navy and Naval Air assets and intelligence in the conflict to oust Qaddafi in Lybia, without the approval of congress. He has also committed to a different but no less lethal strategy of increasing the number of Unmanned Ariel Vehicle strikes on high level Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has produced a number of telling graphics that illustrate the numbers of UAV strikes on civilian and military targets that contrasts the weapon’s usage of presidents Bush and Obama. Clearly the UAV numbers rise significantly under President Obama’s leadership. The key graphic in the series is included below.

Totals of UAV strike missions -Infographic from Bureau of Investigative Reporting

As seen in the numbers, Bush certainly began the campaign of striking with UAVs, but the campaign was vastly expanded after Obama became president.

Not only has the deaths and critical injury of top  terrorists increased, but the number of unwanted civilian non-combatant deaths have also increased, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Obama’s strategy seems to be to actively engage known terrorists and terror camps around the world while reducing the number of US military casualties that are so abhorrent to us at home. But the civilian casualties are just as abhorrent, but still the Obama administration and the CIA drone campaign, which the spy bureau won’t officially admit exist, plods on. While pursuing this new course of action, the President runs the risk of alienating allies like Pakistan and Afghanistan whose sovereignty is often violated by these strikes. The President should also acknowledge the risks that civilian non-combatants may be and are often caught in the cross fire. With the Taliban and Al Qaeda being what they are, it is difficult to tell in the aftermath what body part belonged to a terrorist and which belonged to an innocent civilian. But, the risk of civilian causalities exists and the POTUS should acknowledge it.

While it is laudable for the President to go after terrorists like Osama Bin Laden and others, it is beneath the dignity of the office of the President to continually blame others, i.e. George W. Bush for mistakes of the past and then double down on the same or similar tactics adopted by them. The President should own up to the consequences of his choices. He should tell the American People straight out what he is doing and give a little credit where credit is due. President Obama is a warrior head of state, no different the George W.

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