Helmet's-eye view, part two

Over the At War NYT blog (insightful when it's not gearhead minutiae) Maj. Brandon Lingle picked up the same thread I was tugging at: seeing war-not war from the you are there-not really helmet cam. He was deployed as a PAO, reviewing footage for release or squelching. His sharpest point:

True combat video should make us uncomfortable — not only because of human suffering, but also because of a realization of culpability. Helmet-camera videos alone cannot close a gap in understanding, but maybe they can and should start a dialogue...After all, citizens who turn their eyes from the realities of the wars their country fights do so at their own peril.

I agree. Unedited, grunting, bleeding videos are hard to watch, but war should make us very uncomfortable. A carefully cut network piece or hooting strafing run set to Kill The Lights has the gloss of truth, via the moving-picture format our eyes like to trust, but they're reductive at best. The first person view doesn't close the gap completely but it does get us closer.

Speaking of queasy, he linked to a singularly horrifying example: an unbroken 30 minutes of first-person video in which an ANA soldier trips a mine and his American patrolmates fight to triage him. Very hard to watch, graphic as heck, no-click zone for the fainthearted.

The anonymous footage was posted by Michael Yon, a freelance war correspondent and former Green Beret who wrote a not bad book on his time in Iraq. A little rah-rah but he got kicked out more than once for writing outside of the lines, so at least he was doing his job where so many embeds did not.