"“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.
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)
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).
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson ("Uncle Jimbo") is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy. Email: jimbo AT unclejimbo DOT com
Writer, photographer, and raconteur C. Blake Powers is the Laughing Wolf. He is independent in politics and covers topics including journalism, military, weapons, preparedness, space, science, cooking, food and wine, product and book reviews, and even spirituality. Email: wolf1 AT laughingwolf DOT net Laughing Wolf's Amazon Wish List
Bill Paisley, otherwise known as Pinch, is a 22 year (ongoing) active and
reserve naval aviator. He blogs over at www.instapinch.com on a veritable
cornucopia of various and sundry items and will bring a tactical naval
aviator's perspective to Blackfive. Readers be warned: any comments of or
about the F-14 Tomcat will be reverential and spoken in low, hushed tones.
Email: wpaisley AT comcast DOT net
Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
Email: TheDOTMrDOTWolfAT gmail DOT com
Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
Email: mcq51 -at - bellsouth -dot- net
Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
Major Pain --
A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.