"“You've got to be careful where you emotionally release as a leader, because you don't want your moment of weakness to cost another soldier a moment of strength." - Sergeant First Class Toby Nunn, during his second Iraq deployment
I'm going to start off this review of Frontline's Bad Voodoo's War the best way possible. SFC Toby Nunn, who I shared the honor of being a panelist at Brown University's Watson Institute last fall, speaks to Deborah Scranton (Director of "The War Tapes") about his experiences and why he is a soldier.
Toby is a Canadian citizen who loves America. He's smart, tough and can turn on the American badassery in heartbeat - and he is also brilliant. Here's a photo of him and Tito Ortiz...notice the RangerUp shirt Toby has on.
I'd follow SFC Nunn into hell carrying a gasoline can. You'd want your son under his watch.
Check this out:
If you liked hearing Sergeant First Class Toby Nunn, you should order his book "Northern Disclosure" which is about his experiences leading a new team (new to him) to Iraq. If you have ever served as a sergeant/NCO before, it'll ring true with you. It certainly did for me.
The reason I like Scranton's work is that the soldiers tell their own stories - the good, the bad and the ugly - and you get plenty of that in the interviews. Yes, some just want to go home, others want to do the job they've been giving, and others worry about the (lack of) ability for Iraq to provide it's own security.
Specialist Shaw is also featured. He was awarded the Silver Star for valor during the battle for Bagdhad. This is his third tour that he volunteered for. Shaw, after losing many good friends and seeing a lack of progress, has lost faith in his religion and faith in the possibility of success. It's important to hear what he says.
And then there's an old pal, Sergeant JP Borda, who started blogging when he was in Afghanistan a few years ago (when he was a Specialist). The National Guard Experience was a soldiers blog - lots of humor, comments, etc. Afterwords, JP starting Milblogging.com which was purchased by Military.com. JP then, I believe he volunteered, to go to Iraq with California National Guard.
“The media writes what is going to sell. They're a business, too. We're not a business. We're just writing what we're doing. We've got nothing to sell. We've got nothing to lose.” - Sergeant JP Borda, in Iraq (second deployment, first was OEF)
Sergeant Borda built the Bad Voodoo Platoon website here. And there's more of JP in the video below describing the filming process:
Be sure to watch Frontline, tomorrow night, April 1st, to see Bad Voodoo's War.
In June 2007, as the American military surge reached its peak, a band of National Guard infantrymen who call themselves the "Bad Voodoo Platoon" was deployed to Iraq. To capture a vivid, first-person account of the new realities of war in Iraq for FRONTLINE and ITVS director Deborah Scranton (The War Tapes) created a "virtual embed" with the platoon, supplying cameras to the soldiers so they could record and tell the story of their war. The film intimately tracks the veteran soldiers of "Bad Voodoo" through the daily grind of their perilous mission, dodging deadly IEDs, grappling with the political complexities of dealing with Iraqi security forces, and battling their fatigue and their fears.
Update 04-01-08: Greyhawk is asking where the media was when SFC Nunn's team ruthlessly assists wounded civilians from a bus that hit an IED (the media instead wrote that Americans had destroyed the bus).