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Coming Attractions Under Fire in Helmand

September 18, 2009

In Obama's War, coming Oct. 13th, veteran correspondent and producer Martin Smith (Beyond Baghdad, Return of the Taliban) travels across Afghanistan and Pakistan to see firsthand how President Obama's counterinsurgency strategy is taking shape.

Smith's notes on this clip:

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On this 120-degree day we were out on a mission with a squad from Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment to "bait" the Taliban into attacking so the Marines could coax them into a trap. We were in an area where they had taken fire the day before.

But before the trap was set -- a plan to have a second squad move into place before we came under attack -- the Taliban opened fire. We got pinned down and had to scramble a bit to find a safe berm from which to counterattack. In these pictures you see we're trying to move forward to a more defensible position. We could hear the bullets whizzing just over our heads.

Cameraman Tim Grucza is shooting with a Sony Z7, having lots of heat and dust issues. I have a second small video camera and a still camera.

In the end, no Marines were hurt. It was unclear if any Taliban were killed. One man was brought back for questioning.

For all its appearances, being embedded with the military is actually one of the safest kind of assignments we undertake. If anything happens you have medics on hand or a medevac chopper, if necessary. You also have a huge amount of firepower to chase off any attackers ... a base with perimeter protection on which to sleep ... and trained, skilled soldiers or Marines to take care of you. It's far more dangerous to be unembedded. This is especially true in states like Afghanistan and Pakistan where government control is often tenuous, police are often corrupt and rival gangs vie for power. Basically, you have no one to trust. Give me a military embed any day.

The unit we were with is from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. They are based in the village of Mian Poshteh, Helmand. -- Martin Smith
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Read more about our upcoming Obama's War and view the trailer here.

10 Comments

COMMENTS

Check this out! I think this is an interesting analysis and adequate source to view the new adminstrations policies on the war?

Michael Courtney Hutchison / September 21, 2009 11:04 PM

Your camera ops should be using solid state cameras...

Carl Weston / September 22, 2009 12:08 AM

That's my boy with the "saw" at the begining! OOORAH!! Get some Marine!

Don / September 22, 2009 11:39 PM

Thats my son with the "saw" at the beginning! I am so blessed to have a son that with protect us and his country!!God BLESS AMERICA and GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS!!!!

vicky webb / September 23, 2009 8:41 PM

This remains Bush's War! It is an unfinished and expanded war against Alcaida and Osama bin Ladin, that President Bush virtually abandoned in favor of pouring our military effort into Iraq!
Obama to the Rescue!

EMB / September 25, 2009 12:03 AM

Hope this is planned prgram better than CNN effort.
To all American soldiers and ISAF god bless, but stop publishing strategy and tactics as per McChyrstal report recently, even if it was supposed to be "unclassified"
It only makes it easier for the Taliban to organise thier counter strategy and tactics.
Regards,
Hodgson.

J.V.Hodgson / September 25, 2009 3:13 AM

This is "Playing cat and mouse". Would a hideous mind like Mohammed Atta really fight one-on-one like that in these "heroine" battle fields?
No, but that is supposed to be the rationale behind this campaign, fighting terrorism.
All due respect to the soldiers, but this useless provocations (what else is it?) from both sides is pointless. An airbase and military coop. like Germany or Italy have should be well good enough for NATO and especially the U.S. to leave it in the hands of the Afghan people to decide, what fate they choose. It's just a simple fact, that NATO is not (and never, by the way) eliminating every single and last militant, that's against freedom and democracy there. We are creating more of them, every day, while some smarter guys are plotting worse nightmares, elsewhere.

Mark C. U. / September 25, 2009 10:26 PM

I was an infantryman in Vietnam 40 years ago. We wandered in the jungle and sometimes we killed some of them and sometimes they killed some of us. It just depended on who got the drop on who. It was Charlie's turf and we were never going to "win", it was endless. Afganistan feels like deja vu to me. It was cowboys and indians with real bullets.

Ernie F. / September 29, 2009 10:12 PM

Thanks to all of you who have family members, friends, cherish neighbors and the like protecting us. My husband is a retired Colonel in the Marine reserves and I know everyone endurs alot, but not like all our soldiers and Marines. God Speed and stay blessed. Thanks to all for everything they are doing for us. As we all know, Freedom is not Free. Thanks to everyone who protected our Freedom and still is. May wonderful blessing be surrounding you always.

gayle / September 30, 2009 12:30 PM

I was a reporter in Vietnam, 45 years ago, and Ernie F has it exactly right: even the gunfire sounds the same. Thanks, PBS, for this advance look at your program. (Oh, and General Petraeus? For gosh sakes, lose that spinach!) Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Dan Ford / October 4, 2009 2:35 PM
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