Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Fighting Season: Boots on the Ground during the 2014 Election

The 2014 Presidential election represented a major security challenge for the Coalition forces and the Kabul City Police Center (KCPC). A successful election would be an important step in the nation’s healing process, embarrassing the Taliban determined to undermine it. Top brass and the White House also would also be happy facilitate Karzai’s exit from public life. Viewers will watch U.S. Army units across the war-torn country risk their lives to protect Afghanistan’s fragile democratic institutions in The Fighting Season (promo here), which premieres tomorrow night on DirecTV’s Audience network.

Inconveniently, the election largely coincides with the so-called “Fighting Season,” a rather unfortunate tradition wherein Taliban terrorists take advantage of the spring thaw to come down from the mountains to cause death and destruction. The men of Bravo Company stationed near Forward Operating Base (FOB) Shank will try to stop such Jihadis before they reach Kabul. For those that slip thorough, special teams working for Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson will try to coach and reinforce the KCPC officers maintaining the three concentric rings of check-points known as Kabul’s “Ring of Steel.”

Based on the initial installment, the six part Fighting Season might be one of the best embedded, boots-on-the-ground documents of the Afghanistan Theater that has yet been produced for television. There will be real firefights, but the most compelling part of episode one is the messy uncertainty of intelligence-gathering and reconnaissance. A considerable difference in perspective emerges between Col. John Graham, who believes in face-to-face contact for winning over the Kabul citizenry, and his more battle-hardened task force colleagues, who are concerned about the security risks involved in his spontaneous approach. The problem is, viewers watching Season will be quickly convinced they are both right.

There is some amazing camera work in Season, including some night vision sequences that are so clear and easy to follow, one might think they were lifted from an action film. Executive producer Ricky Schroder’s voice-overs also perfectly suit the program. Instead of a silky smooth narrator, he sounds like enlisted man. It is also clear Schroder and the rest of the Season team respect the troops and believe in the War on Terror considerably more than Jeb Bush.

There is plenty of uncensored warfighting in Season, as well as the sort of salty language military personnel will use from time to time. It is real in a way that is really real, but it also gives a detailed look at the infrastructure and levels of command involved in each mission. Based on the first compelling episode, The Fighting Season is very highly recommended when it debuts tomorrow (5/19) on DirecTV’s Audience Network.