I was given an advance copy of the two hour program "The War Briefing" from Frontline. In the past, Frontline has done some very, very good programs about the Long War, and some, not so good.
"The War Briefing" attempts to give you an idea of what the new President will face - as if this information is his brief on the war in Afghanistan. Frontline talks to resident Counter-insurgency experts as David Kilcullen and John Nagl - both of who write at Small Wars Journal (which is a must read).
"The War Briefing" follows Bravo Company but doesn't give the unit desigination away. Bravo is B/1-26 - the Blue Spaders - which you should know from reading here before. 1-26 saw an awful lot of combat in Iraq before going to Afghanistan.
If Frontline's intent is to make you believe that our problems in Afghanistan - terrain, population support, logistics, etc - are due to our involvement in Iraq, they work hard at making that case. I don't buy the whole enchilada. Some of it is common sense - Afghanistan's terrain has made it the way it is - unforgiving and nearly unconquerable.
On the other side of the coin (pun intended), Frontline also does a decent job of outlining challenges with Afghanistan and other areas of the region, like Pakistan. Frontline also has some good footage of Bravo 1-26 slugging it out with the Taliban. You'll get a healthy appreciation for what the Blue Spaders are going through...again.
Their sole aim was to provide a briefing on the status of Afghanistan. They succeed in that regard.
But what's missing are answers.
- How do we win in Afghanistan?
- And what are we doing about it?
I think General Petraeus might have something to say about that.
I hope that those potential answers, most likely given by Kilcullen and Nagl and edited out for this program, will be a future episode.
Here is the promo video:
"The War Briefing" airs tonight on PBS.