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Pre-Newsnight showing build up

| 10

The Newsnight film shows in half an hour - and just in case you're still tuned in here - there's a bit more background and preamble on the BBC Newsnight website,
Twenty years ago I left the Grenadier Guards to become a freelance cameraman. Three months later I was in Southern Afghanistan filming Afghans shelling Russians at Kandahar's Airport. I could not have then imagined that Afghanistan's wars would drag on this long and that the Grenadier Guards would one day end up fighting in Afghanistan. link
And I quite like the link in from the Newsnight blog,
We have an extraordinary film from video journalist Vaughan Smith. If you want to know what life is like for soldiers in Afghanistan this is the nearest you'll get to it. link


BG | September 26, 2007 11:18 PM | Reply

"If you want to know what life is like for soldiers in Afghanistan this is the nearest you'll get to it."

Newsnight isn't kidding - thanks for this film - it certainly gives us a better understanding of what our troops are up against.

Although I would be being less than candid if I didn't express doubts as to whether we really should be there, as I'm not convinced we can succeed [whatever that means, as I'm not really sure what the 'military objectives' are..] where others have not.

bernard | September 26, 2007 11:42 PM | Reply

god bless them all lets be very proud of those boys including my son who has been to hell and back in that godforsaken place. please bring them back safe...

Andrea | September 27, 2007 12:52 AM | Reply

I cannot thank you enough for your Newsnight report - I saw my brother!! Words cannot describe how I am feeling right now. So many mixed emotions. He came home for two weeks R & R a couple of months ago (and he is coming home to us for good in less than two weeks, thank God) and in that time he was able to open up a little about the work they are doing out there, and indeed he spoke a lot about the clearing of compounds. He even mentioned the crop fields in and around the compounds which make visibility so difficult for the men, so it was very interesting to see those for myself in your report.

Watching this report, however, brought it all home to me in such a glaring way. I am shaking like a leaf, but my over-riding emotion (and that of his almost 9 month pregnant partner) is one of intense pride. My brother has missed almost all of the pregnancy, but what stories of courage, fortitude and daring he will be able to tell his daughter when she is old enough to know about his time in Iraq and Afghanistan!

I wish there were a way to make a copy of the video so we can save it and show it to her in years to come. Unfortunately Newsnight only hosts each night's show for 3 days, which means it will have gone even before my mother returns from holiday, and I wish more than anything that she might have had the opportunity to watch her beloved son in action. I would be eternally grateful if you could let me know whether it is possible to somehow get a copy for our family.

I long for my brother to come home, and I cannot wait to tell him that for a few moments tonight I felt like I was with him in more than spirit..

Thank you so very much Mr Smith; you have made a British family unutterably proud and happy this evening, and given us the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of a brief glimpse into my brother's life all the way out there in Afghanistan. I have watched the Newsnight report around 10 times so far tonight, pausing each time at the moment my brother appears on the screen, crying and laughing at the same time. As I said, words will never express what this has meant to us...

My brother, the soldier and hero.

Vaughan Smith, one of wars' unsung heroes. You risked your life to raise awareness of the extremities under which our men are fighting out there, as too few in the media have, and you have enabled one family, at least, to feel near to their son, partner, friend and brother tonight.

Hughesie | September 27, 2007 10:03 AM | Reply

I saw your film last night, and am grateful to you for

showing the British public what troops face in Afghanistan.

I have mates of mine who - all being well - should be

coming home from 'Herrick' soon. Many thanks.

BG | September 27, 2007 10:29 AM | Reply

Andrea - do give your brother a big hug from all of us !

Vaughan - a follow up film would be great to compare and contrast the situation now, with the situation when the Russians were there. Without getting too political it would be useful to know your views on the impact this is having on the Taliban, and on the comment that we may have to be there for a generation. Don't we need more help from, say, the Germans, rather than trying to do it all ourselves ?

On a slightly more tongue-in-cheek note, I think your next film should involve a Cook's tour round the other Nato soldiers to show what the others are [or aren't?] doing. Though that may be slightly unfair, as I didn't realise until recently that Canadian soldiers are being injured as part of this conflict.

Anonymous | September 27, 2007 10:48 AM | Reply

Thanks for all the feedback, I hope Vaughan has a chance to pop into the comments box soon - busy man and all that. But, to answer your specific question Andrea - Vaughan fully intends to upload the entire Newsnight film to this blog in the near future, so keep 'em peeled. In the meantime, Newsnight have created a page with numerous interesting links off the story.


Thanks again, feedback has been universally positive across the net as far as we can tell.

Charles | September 27, 2007 8:07 PM | Reply


I wonder if, Vaughan, you would care to reprise a comment you are reported to have made at an interview roughly half-a-lifetime ago ... "I just want to be a ******** Grenadier !"

Andrea | September 29, 2007 4:41 AM | Reply

I really appreciate you taking the time to respond to my post Frontline Blogger. I'll be bringing my brother to this site a nano-second after we get him safely home! I might even try to persuade him to write about the night when, to raise everyone's spirits, he began to sing a Kasabian song called British Legion, with the lyrics "we're gonna make it through", and how the hair began to rise all across his body as one-by-one each man began to join in until they were all singing their hearts out en-masse. They had not long since lost another of their 'boys' and you can almost feel the emotion that was poured into that song that night...

I should point out that my brother is in the Royal Anglians who had joined with 3 Company, Grenadier Guards, for the clearing of the compound that featured in your Newsnight film, so the Anglians appear only briefly right at the end which makes it even more miraculous that I managed to catch a glimpe of him.

The Royal Anglians have lost 9 young men in Southern Afghanistan. It is vital that people like you continue to bring the efforts of all our men and women to the attention of the British public so that those 9 incredibly brave men don't just become forgotten statistics.

As it says in the Military Covenant: "Soldiers will be called upon to make personal sacrifices - including the ultimate sacrifice - in the service of the Nation...This mutual obligation forms the Military Covenant between the nation, the Army and each individual soldier; an unbreakable common bond of identity, loyalty and responsibility which has sustained the Army and its soldiers throughout its history...". In many ways, we - the families - must also sign up to this covenant, if only in spirit. Our lives are on hold for months at a time until the day arrives when they finally come home to us. We must continue to raise awareness of what they are doing in Afghanistan so our Forces feel supported and valued, not just by their families and friends, but by their government and country too.

Keep up the amazing efforts all of you at Frontline; you are doing such a fantastically important job.

PS. A special thank you to BG for your hug, which will be passed on in less than two weeks. We can't wait!

Anonymous | September 29, 2007 9:57 AM | Reply

Andrea, I can send you a DVD copy of the film. Email me at vaughan.smith@frontlineclub.com with your address.

I am really pleased that my film meant so much to you. I work independently, outside the "machine" and fund my own journalism. It makes it all seem worthwhile when I hear that some of my work has been found useful.

I had a very interesting time with the Anglians as well as the Grenadiers. I am from Norfolk myself! Near the Broads.

Andrea | September 29, 2007 6:05 PM | Reply

Email sent, THANK YOU!

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