The Irish-Afghan war

Jack Rodolico By Jack Rodolico

It’s easy to think of the War in Afghanistan as an “American” battle. But as of January 2012, 48 other nations had troops in the war-torn nation.

While America’s 90,000 troops make about 70% of the total force, the British Amy ranks as the number two contributor with 9,500 troops. Since 2001, 394 British servicemen have been killed in Afghanistan. A new documentary takes an intimate look at a sub-sect of the British Army – the Royal Irish Regiment.

British soldiers from 1 Royal Irish Regiment participate in an operation to secure the village of Musakala in Helmand province, Afghanistan, August 6, 2006. REUTERS/Cpl Rob Knight

In recent years, Irish from both Northern Ireland and the Republic have joined the British Army in numbers unseen since World War II. This story brings you right into the action through personal stories and piercing sound. Much of the documentary was recorded by Irish soldiers in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. As Patrick Bury, an Irish captain, points out in this opinion column from the Herald, he fought alongside “lads from Dublin, Wicklow, Kildare, Laois, Kerry — all over our island.”

The story opens up in the midst of a gun battle between Irish and Taliban forces in 2010. The constant gunfire of “Operation Black Winter” serves as the backdrop for confessionals from young Irish soldiers, who describe killing their enemies in battle as well as maintaining their Irish identity while serving in the British Army.

This radio story is as raw and gritty as the Vietnam War movie classic, “Full Metal Jacket,” only it obviously holds the weight of truth. As American troops start to return home from Afghanistan, this documentary is a reminder that the effects of war are universal, and the war effort stretches far beyond our doorstep.

Straight to the Source