The Good Soldier

Back in December, President Obama pledged 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan over a period of six months, bringing the total U.S. commitment in armed forces to over 100,000. Quite simply, he argued, the U.S. cannot afford not to pour any more resources there, and if yesterday’s series of suicide bombings and Taliban attacks on Kabul as new cabinet members were to be sworn in is any indication, he is right—even if most Americans feel differently.

In a recent interview, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command (ISAF), said: "We have some pockets of pretty good security right now in certain areas and as these 30,000 additional troops flow in we hope to be able to connect those and expand them so that the Afghans have a greater sense of security and a better trust and confidence in their future.  As security grows, of-course, things grow with it, and the governance grows, development and all those good things that will help provide a better opportunity in the future for Afghanistan." That sort of optimism is what keeps a lot of those young soldiers sane out there, I figure.

After a successful theatrical run in nearly 30 markets, a documentary called The Good Soldier is now available on DVD. The film offers a glimpse into the costs of war through the eyes of five combat veterans from different generations of American wars: Private Edward Wood (World War II), Staff Sergeant Will Williams (Vietnam), Chief Warrant Officer Perry Parks (Vietnam), Captain Michael McPhearson (Gulf War) and Staff Sergeant Jimmy Massey (the Iraq War). The documentary follows them as they sign up, go into battle, and come to terms with what it really means to be “a good soldier.”  As Sergeant Jimmy Massey says in the doc: “My commanding officer asked, ‘What’s wrong?’ I said, ‘It was a bad day; we killed lots of innocent civilians.’ He replied, ‘No, today has been a good day.’ I thought to myself, buddy boy, you’re in a world of shit now.’”

The Good Soldier is directed by Lexy Lovell and Michael Uys, both Peabody Award winners for their first doc, Riding the Rails (1997), about teenagers on the road during The Great Depression.