Pick of the week

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

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.

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