Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Best Defense movie night: ‘Restrepo,’ a one-year Afghan tour in 90 minutes

Restrepo finally is available through Netflix, so my sainted wife and I watched it Friday night. A few thoughts: •Good movie, especially if you have not been to Afghanistan or deployed anywhere. My wife’s reaction: “Holy moly, people actually live like this? I need to thank these guys.” My reaction to hers: “Jeez, what do ...

Wikimedia
Wikimedia
Wikimedia

Restrepo finally is available through Netflix, so my sainted wife and I watched it Friday night. A few thoughts:

Good movie, especially if you have not been to Afghanistan or deployed anywhere. My wife's reaction: "Holy moly, people actually live like this? I need to thank these guys." My reaction to hers: "Jeez, what do you think I was covering for the last 20 years?" This unit generally did its best. (Except when they killed the guy's cow and failed to compensate him -- I mean, that sort of behavior just alienates locals and invites attacks.) But what the hell where they doing there up in that tiny outpost in the first place? They looked to me like they lacked sufficient numbers to really do anything except stir up trouble. They really didn't seem to have much connection to the locals. This is not their fault -- this results from strategic and operational misconceptions by senior military and civilian leaders. I couldn't tell if this was the fault of the movie, but they seemed to spend a lot of time getting sniped on their outpost and not so much time taking the fight to the enemy, especially in a combined arms fashion and at night. Minor objection, but I didn't like the title. I think they should have gone with their subtitle: "One Platoon, One Valley, One Year." Overall, it reminded me a lot of what went wrong in Wanat, which is not far away. Watch it. Four BD stars.

Restrepo finally is available through Netflix, so my sainted wife and I watched it Friday night. A few thoughts:

  • Good movie, especially if you have not been to Afghanistan or deployed anywhere. My wife’s reaction: “Holy moly, people actually live like this? I need to thank these guys.” My reaction to hers: “Jeez, what do you think I was covering for the last 20 years?”
  • This unit generally did its best. (Except when they killed the guy’s cow and failed to compensate him — I mean, that sort of behavior just alienates locals and invites attacks.) But what the hell where they doing there up in that tiny outpost in the first place? They looked to me like they lacked sufficient numbers to really do anything except stir up trouble. They really didn’t seem to have much connection to the locals. This is not their fault — this results from strategic and operational misconceptions by senior military and civilian leaders.
  • I couldn’t tell if this was the fault of the movie, but they seemed to spend a lot of time getting sniped on their outpost and not so much time taking the fight to the enemy, especially in a combined arms fashion and at night.
  • Minor objection, but I didn’t like the title. I think they should have gone with their subtitle: “One Platoon, One Valley, One Year.”
  • Overall, it reminded me a lot of what went wrong in Wanat, which is not far away.
  • Watch it. Four BD stars.
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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