America's foolhardy occupation of Afghanistan, in the interest of huge private military contracts and maintaining an oil pipeline that the U.S. media ignores, is examined in microcosm via one platoon's deployment in Afghanistan's dangerous Korengal Valley. Filmed from June 2007 to July 2008, documentarians Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger put faces to the names of soldiers from Second Platoon Battle Company, soliders like Captain Kearney and First Sergeant LaMonta Caldwell as they secure outpost “Restrepo,” named after one of their early fallen comrades.
The “fish-in-a-barrel” valley outpost exposes the soldiers to constant insurgent attacks from all sides.
The utter lack of competent military strategy comes across in candid interviews with the soldiers and in the battle engagements that go on. Restrepo accomplishes what televised news coverage of Vietnam did for that untenable war; it shows the terrible effects of the war on the hearts and minds of the young American men who fight there, and the inability of the U.S. military to effectively communicate with the Afghan people to build peace. It shows the landscape and the fighting in a way that allows for a tangible comprehension of the war.
Although it's not mentioned in the film, after five years of occupation, U.S. troops pulled out of the Korengal Valley in April 2010 when it concluded that it had "blundered into a blood feud with villagers" who only wanted to be left alone. After seeing this film, it's no wonder how the Afghan people ran the Russian and British military out of their country in the same way that they're winning against the U.S. military now. Grade: B
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