All of the footage of combat in the series is from cameras worn by soldiers of the United States Army, according to a warning before every episode. The opening episode of the series follows soldiers of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team 504th (Parachute Infantry Regiment), 82nd Airborne Division, during a deployment to Afghanistan. The footage is shockingly graphic and is not suitable for all ages.
There is blood and broken bodies shown without the mask or filters of editing. The language is real. The tone and reality of combat is in your face for much of the series. One can watch as real people talk through the violence of war while cameras are running to capture the raw emotions of the moment.
The series opens with Bryan Myers reminding anybody that may have forgotten there is a war going on in Afghanistan. He uses a little bit more colorful language but as is typical of war fighters. Myers is a former Staff Sgt. of the U.S. Army Airborne Infantry, and is featured in the documentary series.
The opening episode follows his element during a complex ambush. A complex ambush is one where the enemy directly engages American forces with multiple types of weapons from different angles. In this case it was rifle fire, improvised explosive devices (homemade bombs), indirect fire (mortars), and a continuous cloverleaf movement to contact against the American forces, in an attempt to divide and destroy them.
The entire engagement is captured on body and helmet cameras while it happened. Then production crews interviewed the soldiers after they returned from the deployment. The emotional recalls of the moments are more moving than the combat footage. One can almost gain a sense of the toll combat takes on young Americans from the responses of the soldiers.
The most graphic episode is farther into the series. It is of a complex IED strike resulting in a mass-casualty situation. A mass-casualty situation is one where a fighting force is deemed mission incapable because of the amount of sustained wounded or dead. The medical evacuation team in the episode was awarded Evacuation of the Year, because of their heroic rescue of severely wounded soldiers.
The stories are told from two perspectives during the episode, the evacuees and the evacuators. The medical evacuation team was a helicopter unit that landed in a mind field during multiple IED strikes to rescue ground soldiers. One such soldier was a medic that volunteered for the mission after hearing one of his junior medics had gone missing.
It is too emotional to write about. Being a part of missions like this made the series very hard to watch. One should be warned that any military veteran with PTSD should be careful watching this series.
The episode with the medical evacuation culminates in a nice way. One will have to watch the series how. The producers did a wonderful job of telling the stories of these soldiers in a very real way.
Bullets can be heard zinging past the head of these soldiers. Explosions are caught on camera. So are the resulting severed limbs and injuries. The most powerful aspect of the series is the producers’ ability to capture the emotional toll on those telling their stories.
It is wonderful to see how the service members have adapted and overcome their injuries. The inspiring stories of men over coming trauma, amputations and paralysis makes it easier to watch the series. It is truly a look inside of what veterans face in the 21st century.
For more check out the series on National Geographic TV. It is available to stream through their app.
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