The Battle for Marjah

By Joshua Foust

One year ago thousands of U.S. Marines and Afghan forces staged an assault on Marjah, a small, isolated farming community in the center of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. Most coverage of the fighting came from embedded journalists writing for newspapers. HBO, however, sent a documentary film crew to capture the fighting as it unfolded. The results, The Battle for Marjah, which premiered last week, are harrowing.

There has been a proliferation of documentaries about the war recently. Last year, Armadillo, about a small base in Helmand province jointly used by Danish and American troops, sparked controversy over its revelations about the reality of combat operations. Last year, too, the film Restrepo exposed the few Americans who watched it to the grinding horrors of the war in Kunar province. PBS’s Frontline has run a series of searing documentaries into the war over the last two years, including embedding with the insurgents in northern Baghlan province and an expose on the sexual abuse of young children.

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