I bought the DVD for The Patrol at Costco thinking it was about American special-forces troops in Afghanistan, but it wasn’t. It was about a British Army Patrol often under attack from an unseen enemy. The UK troops in the film return fire but have no way to know if they inflicted any casualties on the Taliban. I think we tend to forget that U.S. troops aren’t the only forces fighting in Afghanistan. To date, the UK has lost 453 troops in Afghanistan in addition to 2,116 wounded in action.
The Patrol takes place in 2006, in Helmand Province, as the British Army deploys into the Taliban heartland. In 2006, Britain led the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Helmand province in the south of the country with a 3,300-strong force after fresh outbreaks of violence. At its peak, in Helmand alone there were 137 UK bases and around 9,500 UK troops.
The Patrol has been called, “The British answer to The Hurt Locker and is just as depressing for its sense of reality. As in all war, there is no glory, and with casualties, morale suffers. Hollywood, the news and novels are where war is glorified. Rooted in reality, this film is not your average Hollywood epic. If you are interested in the reality of war, I suggest you ignore the average star rating on Amazon from customer reviews.
War is not combat all the time. The average infantryman in the South Pacific during World War II saw about 40 days of combat in four years. The average infantryman in Vietnam saw about 240 days of combat in one year thanks to the mobility of the helicopter. Now research is revealing that our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are experiencing over 310 days of combat—a day of combat is a day that you don’t know if you will live or die that day. – Our Warriors Today and “Combat Trauma”
The first-time, writer-director Tom Perch draws on his own life in the army to build a convincing low budget film of how troops lose faith in their leaders when they have lousy weapons and see no reason to keep risking their lives in combat that makes no sense.
What worked for me in this film was that the usual macho type heroes we see in most combat films were missing. There were no heroes here and no cowards either. Just troops doing the job they were trained to do—and obviously sent in to harm’s way by corrupt, bungling governments.
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.
His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.
And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.
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