HBO's Battle for Marjah documentary is not worth your time. That is, most already know the war in Afghanistan can't be won. But there is no political will to end it. However, as a working metaphor for that dilemma, the documentary is fine.
The doc follows the Marines of Bravo company as part of the assault on Marjah in Helmand province. For the most part, the Taliban are an elusive force. They don't engage Bravo company in any setpiece knock-down, drag out battles, fights they would certainly lose due to much inferior firepower.
Instead, the Marines of Bravo are cut off although it doesn't seem like much of an inconvenience. And eventually Marjah is largely secured.
However, the locals obviously do not care for the Marines. The feeling is mutual.
Members of the "Afghan army" -- and I use asterisks because that's what's deserved -- deploy with the Marines into Marjah. And although there is a bit of loud talk about how they're credible fighters, on video they look to be an inept assortment of reluctant shrimps and weaklings. At one point a few Marines from Bravo curse a group of Afghans, literally having to kick their butts in order to get them through a doorway into a compound being cleared.
Patently worthless as soldiers, many of the Marines appear to view them with contempt.
Eventually the Taliban wind up back in the town anyway.
Afghanistan is a hopeless place. Marjah will reinforce what you already know. Because of the nature of this lesson it is not very watchable. And not because of any fault with the Marine Corps or the filmmaker.
Another review is here.
This post was originally published at Dick Destiny blog.