Pick of the week
Afghanistan: Inside Australia’s War Tuesday, 8.30pm, ABC Using helmet-cam battle footage and interviews with Australian soldiers, this extraordinary three-part series tells the story of our troops in Afghanistan. In part two, titled Hearts and Minds, soldiers go into battle to secure the province of Oruzgan. One soldier describes how he shot dead a “$10 Taliban” with a photo of a child in his pocket. “I’d do the same again,” he says, “but in a different version of events he got away and went back to his family.” Another describes the mayhem: “All I wanted was to go out in a good way. I didn’t want to die on my knees.” Was it worth it? Hila Achekzai, senator for Oruzgan, is grateful. “Others made promises, the Australians delivered,” she says, referring to the work the Australians did building hospitals, roads and schools. Locals quickly realised the Australians were offering what the Taliban didn’t. But the first crack appeared when the troops built a police checkpoint north of Tarin Kowt. The police didn’t like it; it was burned to the ground. Leadership structures, ancient systems of power and loyalties at a provincial level were almost impossible to unravel. The footage brings home the danger the troops faced every day, no more so than when a camera inside an armoured vehicle catches the moment when Trooper David Pearce, 41, drives over a landmine and dies. Sobering, to say the least.