This documentary is engaging in that it is a departure from the typical documentary. It’s about United States National Guard soldiers trying to train an indigenous Afghan army from mid- to late 2000s in Heart, Afghanistan. It centers on the 207th Corps of the nascent Afghan National Army.
The frustration on the part of the Americans is shown as they try to instill discipline in a fighting force rife with incompetence, corruption, and desertion.
Much of the footage focuses on the top U.S. soldier, Col. Mike Shute, and his Afghan opposite, General Fazal Ahmad Sayar, as they try to figure out the best way to train the mostly illiterate Afghans.
What is most appealing about this documentary is how it shows the personal relationships that have been developed between the Americans and Afghans, particularly Col. Shute and General Sayar.
“Camp Victory, Afghanistan” also illuminates how the war is fought by people. Meaning, the amount of money poured into the endeavor – while important – cannot compare to the boots-on-the-ground personal training afforded by the National Guard.
As can be expected, there is a lot of frustration. Afghanistan is, after all, a failed nation where lawlessness is rampant. So how do you train an army with a backdrop of anarchy? Answer: you do your best.
Col. Shute, as his conversations with General Sayar show, really cares about the outcome. He is personally invested in the mission and shows it in the way he reacts to failures and successes.
This film is not only a documentary about modern Afghanistan but also about friendship and cooperation by new found friends.
Camp Victory, Afghanistan is available to rent.
Murphy can be reached at: [email protected]