When journalist and author Sebastian Junger embedded himself with a small group of soldiers in an isolated outpost called Restrepo in the Afghan mountains, he quickly realized that he couldn't remain impartial. Instead, he bonded with the men in the platoon and learned what it was like to live in a state of war without the Internet, running water or connection to the outside world. He recorded his experiences in a new book, titled War, and a documentary named Restrepo.
Junger says the soldiers demonstrated extraordinary acts of courage, such as stepping into the line of fire to defend their outpost or reach an injured comrade. But, none of the soldiers considered their actions courageous and insisted that anyone would have done the same in a similar situation. Junger also observed how, despite the difficult conditions at Restrepo, the soldiers missed it after they left because of the sense of extreme belonging and co-dependence they felt while there.
After Junger and the soldiers left their outpost, American forces eventually pulled out of the area completely and intentionally destroyed Restrepo. Junger says the soldiers feel very conflicted about their role in the war, since their outpost essentially became enemy territory again.
"The affiliation that I experienced with these guys, the affection I had for them, frankly, the subjectivity that started to occur in my journalism really began to interest me, because I realized that my feelings for them roughly mirrored their feelings for each other." - Sebastian Junger, author and journalist
"What really is going on is that, in that place, each man there is necessary to everyone else. He has a completely secure position within that small group." - Sebastian Junger, author and journalist
1. Where is Afghanistan?
2. What is the terrain like in Afghanistan? Why might it be difficult to fight a war there?
1. Do you think Junger is still a credible journalist even though he wasn't able to remain an impartial observer when he went to Restrepo? Why or why not?
2. According to the video, what did the men in the platoon say they missed about being at Restrepo? Did you find this surprising? Why or why not?
3. Junger says he approached his time at Restrepo believing that combat "doesn't change very much for the soldier on the ground, war to war, century to century." Based on what you know about previous wars and based on what you saw in the video, do you agree with him? Why or why not?