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This Is What Winning Looks Like (Part 1/3)

Jun 07, 2021
EDDY MORETTI: Hello, I'm Eddy Moretti. Today I'm with Ben Anderson, an independent documentary filmmaker and writer. You have a book out right now called "No Worse Enemy." Ben has been working with us at Vice for several years. He has also been reporting from Afghanistan for several years. He was first inducted into the British forces around 2007. Hello? Has anyone been hit? -Did anyone get it right? EDDY MORETTI: But he recently took a trip to Afghanistan in December of 2012. So we're going to watch Ben's new documentary, which is called "This Is What Winning Looks Like." It is a shocking and revealing look at the current state of Afghanistan.
this is what winning looks like part 1 3
BARAK OBAMA: Tonight I can announce that, over the next year, another 34,000 American troops will return from Afghanistan. This reduction will continue. And by the end of next year our war in Afghanistan will be over. BENERAL ALLEN: Afghan forces that defend the Afghan people and allow the government of


country to serve its citizens. This is victory. This is




like, and we shouldn't shy away from using these words. -Here you have a PB commander who we know is kidnapping children and sexually abusing them. -So he tries to do that day after day, working with child abusers.
this is what winning looks like part 1 3

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He wears you down after a while. BARAK OBAMA: International troops will continue to train, advise and assist Afghans and fight alongside them when necessary. But we will take a supporting role as the Afghans step forward. But we must finish the work we started in Afghanistan and end


war responsibly. EDDY MORETTI: This is


the US military and the US government are saying. But you don't believe it because you've seen the opposite. BEN ANDERSON: Yes. And the British and American marines on the ground don't believe it either. I mean, all it's about now is going out and saving face.
this is what winning looks like part 1 3
And we will not leave because we have achieved our goals. We are leaving because we have given up on achieving those goals. That's the only goal now, to somehow look good when we go out. It could even be worse than that, because all the fighting has been aimed at introducing a corrupt, hated and feared government that in some areas makes the Taliban look like the good guys. And when you remember that the Taliban were welcomed into power in the mid-90s, because they seemed like good, just Muslims compared to the warlords, you feel eerily similar today. -Go ahead, I'll give you a quick class on hygiene and cleaning the PB.
this is what winning looks like part 1 3
The important thing is to separate where you shower, eat and go to the bathroom. You want to keep it separate. So if you're eating, or you're just taking a shower, or you're using the bathroom, you pretty much just put all that bacteria that you just got rid of, you put it back on your skin. If you use your hands to eat, it will go right back into your system. And it's going to cause illness, disease. -Let me explain one more thing to you, okay? We're taking time out of our lives, so are the Marines, okay? All of us here are taking time out of our lives to come here, away from our families, to help you. -We are not here to offend anyone.
If we say anything that may offend you, we apologize in advance. Let us know. And we will fix it. BEN ANDERSON: Everyone thinks training is speeding up now that we're gone. Training is almost non-existent now. Most forces have withdrawn to the main bases, which they never leave. Because, as I say, I think the people on the ground have given up on any chance of success. BEN ANDERSON: So they have four secret prisons that they put in the far room and filled the door with sandbags. They were trying to hide from the marines. -Then they are hungry.
How long have they been there? -Oh, there are four boys. -Four? -Yeah. -Tell him I was going to the bathroom back there. And I heard voices in the corner windows. -Can we see if they are in our system with the eye scan? Can we do the eye scan? -These guys? -Yeah. Can we pull them out and see if they are in our system? Let's see if they are... -Who? Who left them, Hitab? -Can we give them water? -No. EDDY MORETTI: Doesn't the US military have more capable resources to do this? This is literally nation building from the psyche up.
BEN ANDERSON: The idea has always been to work your way into a city, drive out the Taliban, and then all these other people come in to train the Afghans in governance and building infrastructure and so on. That other


rarely happens. And certainly, it doesn't happen as much as it should happen. So it's left in the hands of guys like him, who, as you say, are trained to fight, not to do all these complicated and difficult jobs. And that same day a local politician arrives. He was the man behind the prisoner taking. -Was the purpose of the entire mission, last night's operation, simply to go find his brother and those Taliban?
Or was there another mission and they just happened to catch these guys? -You can only arrest the Taliban. That's what that order was for, for the Taliban who kidnapped his brother. Kidnapping his brothers is the same as kidnapping any random person. It's a kidnapping. It's a crime. It is not legal to kidnap anyone, only if they are Taliban and they get caught. -A


from being the brothers of the Taliban who kidnapped their brother, they have not done anything wrong. They have not committed any crime. They cannot be arrested if they themselves have done nothing wrong. Just because they are brothers of the Taliban does not mean that they themselves are Taliban.
BEN ANDERSON: This shows how powerless they are. They really don't know. All they know is that four guys have been illegally kidnapped, they are illegally detained, they are not fair and they have not been given water. And it is being hidden from them. They are trying to catch up all the time. That's all they can do. The Marines he was with came to spend the night at this patrol base. But the Afghan police had torn down the security barrier and were selling it for scrap at the local bazaar. So they didn't have any kind of security at their base.
So the marines couldn't stay. -So they just took them out of here. So they were still here. I don't know where they are now. -You have to figure out where to draw the line to where you want to try to get to. And we don't turn them into American police officers. That is not the intention of being here. But we also want to teach them the human rights part, that if you have a detainee or a prisoner, you still have to give them water. BEN ANDERSON: So while the Marines were somewhere else, they put them in the back of the truck and took them out the door.
BEN ANDERSON: It's a bit of a half-hearted effort to get them to stop because they don't have the power to do it. -I took a good look at two of them. Two of them had their faces covered. Someone can still look at the photos and see who they might be. -Hey, if you don't have your gear on, put it on. BEN ANDERSON: So after the truck left with the four detainees in the back, three surrounding police patrol bases were attacked by the Taliban. -From south to southeast! -How far? -At least 300 meters. BEN ANDERSON: As soon as the Taliban see US Marine trucks somewhere, they don't attack them.
They only attack weak points. Although some bullets eventually came towards the watchtower we were at. -Hey, what are they shooting at? -A truck is approaching. -Don't shoot until you can see it. -It says they are outside the camp, how can I see it? And if I shoot, they'll stop shooting. -Wait until they come out. -If you don't see them, then you won't be able to hit them with the bullets. You're going to waste ammo. -Do you have any eyes there on the left? -Negative. -You dont have anything? -What did he say? BEN ANDERSON: I was so angry I couldn't shoot.
He simply grabbed the big machine gun, ran out the door, and then fired wildly. -Just walk and shoot. It doesn't point to anything. -Have you turned the corner? -Yes, they are simply walking around the ally shooting at nothing. -What's that? -They're walking down the alley like that, shooting. -Not if we don't have it. -He says that if we run out of ammunition, we will use these rocks to fight the Taliban. -Alright. Good to go. BEN ANDERSON: This is another patrol base where they are advising police. And at the police base, there is a huge marijuana plant, right next to the small area where they have their meetings, inside the police base.
EDDY MORETTI: Did you see grass everywhere? BEN ANDERSON: Everywhere. Each police base has a small garden. -Well, you have two options. You can go to PHQ and tell them your situation. Or you will have to learn to work with what you have. But I recommend that you go to PHQ, tell them your situation, show them that weapon and demand that they give you more weapons to replace it. EDDY MORETTI: They don't understand that yes, there has actually been a transformation. And we're supposed to take the initiative. They are still waiting for US forces to take the initiative.
BEN ANDERSON: And that's what surprised me, how it hasn't reached the Afghans yet. An Afghan soldier told me, it will be great when the Americans leave, because all the money they had for weapons and equipment, we will get. And I said, you won't do it. EDDY MORETTI: It doesn't really work that way. BEN ANDERSON: No, no. And also someone, somewhere, I'm sure, has said: Remember when we supported the mujahideen against the Russians? And remember we left all those weapons there? And we had to spend years and millions of dollars to recover those weapons, particularly the Stinger missiles.
We will not make the same mistake again. So these guys have AK-47s, some RPGs, some unarmored pickup trucks, some Humvees that aren't safe enough for Americans or Brits to drive anywhere. And that's all they have. -Well, here's the thing. We're trying to get it to the point where it can operate without relying too much on American aid. But nothing will happen until you sit down and show us a plan. -I hear great things about you. You are a good PB commander. So you have a lot of men here. And I think you're going to do great things.
BEN ANDERSON: Eventually you understand that you have to come up with a plan yourself. Then you can do it. And we will support you if necessary. So they leave and the police commander says: Okay, I'll make a plan in a few days. And we will do it. And a few days later, he simply disappeared while on leave. And no one has heard from him since. No plan. -Put on your helmet, he said. BEN ANDERSON: At another patrol base, as usual, they didn't seem to want the Marine's help or advice. -You can gather your boys right here. -Basically, the sandbags we have, that's all we have.
So let's go ahead and fill them out. Once we have filled them, like I said, five of you will fill the sandbags. The other five will help, fix the other one. And then we will change. -Hey, if you guys don't want to do it now, I completely understand. But we are here to help you. If you don't want our help, we'll leave the sandbags. You guys, figure it out. We will take our equipment with us. We are at your side to help you make your tower safer. That way you won't get shot at from all directions.
Alright? -Somewhere here? Hey? Are you going to check it out? Yes or no? BEN ANDERSON: The cop at the checkpoint was smoking marijuana, which is pretty normal. But two of the policemen now filling the sandbags are crazy about something else, and something stronger, opium or heroin, and they literally fall asleep while they stand or sit, filling the sandbags. Then, while all that was going on, someone fired a few shots at the watchtower they were filling sandbags for. -Is he? What is he shooting at? -What are you shooting at? -What the hell is that? -Firing back west.
They do not have positive identifications. -What are you shooting at? What are you shooting at, brother? -The PB commander wants to shoot to make a show of force. Copy. -Hey? Do you see the Taliban? Where did you see the Taliban? Yes where? -The Taliban stay in the garden. And sometimes you go and shoot us. -Are they in the garden and are they going to shoot us? -Yeah. BEN ANDERSON: They haven't seen who just shot them. They just want some shots fired back at them as some kind of show of strength. -What's that? They're in the garden? -In the garden. -You have to make sure you see them.
You have to make sure you see them, because he was shooting bullets down there. And you don't know what you're shooting at. You have to see them before you shoot. -But like I say, make sure you see someone before you shoot, because you don't know what's beyond. -Professionals don't do that, you know? Professionals make sure they know their goal and what lies beyond it. Professionals don't just shoot in the crowd. They are supposed to be professionals. You are professionals. That's why you don't do that. BEN ANDERSON: And three weeks later, the deputy commander was shot in the body.
He clawed at her lungs. And the Navy doctor saved him. And they found a bag of heroin in his pocket. So I'm sure these guys were doing heroin. -Are you going to put your men back on the sandbags? Are you going to have them brought here? BEN ANDERSON: The lesson of the day was filling sandbags. The policeThey got tired of that very quickly, stopped a car at their checkpoint and just asked some civilians, and then some children, to fill and carry the sandbags for them. BEN ANDERSON: This is Major Bill Steuber. He's in charge of the police advisory team, 18 Marines that go to all these bases.
He spends most of his time at police headquarters trying to advise leaders. But the real police chief disappeared eight days into his job, he performed the Hajj and had not been seen at that time for two and a half months. The acting police chief also just disappeared. And he has no idea where he's gone or what's going on. BEN ANDERSON: And basically, when these guys go missing, they often take all their commanders with them. The last time this happened, half of the police force in Sangin simply disappeared. Therefore, every time the US Marines are alone with the Afghans, they must have a guardian angel.
So one of them has his rifle cocked and his finger on the trigger, ready in case there is an internal attack. -Have you ever seen the television show "The Sopranos?" It's fast. Everything from removing ammunition from your supplies to removing fuel from your shipments. There is false imprisonment. They will carry people during an engagement. They will simply wrap up everyone who was around and then wait for the families to come and pay them money so they can release them. -All of these vehicles are claimed on their monthly expenses, so they receive money for fuel and oil for each vehicle they see, although obviously they can't race, they can't operate.
They only got a handful of vehicles running. So in the district, I think they have 25 vehicles, and maybe only 10 or 11 of them actually work, but they are collecting the fuel and oil money for all the other vehicles, even though they can't actually operate them. -The ammunition is the same. We count their bullets when they come out of the vehicles here, and usually they are the bullets, the RPGs, the ones sold at the bazaar. That will happen in transit, because you know that once they receive them here and we inventory them, we will be very attentive to what happens with those ammunition. -This was taken from a dead Taliban.
The interesting thing is that the guy who was wearing this vest, when he came in, he was in the back of one of these trucks like this. And we went up to bring him a white sheet, and they wouldn't let us cover him. That was kind of disturbing. He was just a kid sitting back there, pissing and shitting himself, and bleeding everywhere, and...yeah. Stinks. It sucks that kids get fucking shot. BEN ANDERSON: Did they say why wouldn't they give him a proper burial? -He said he didn't deserve it. And we brought him the sheet anyway, just because he's still a warrior, you know?
And he deserves to be treated as such, even in death. But they didn't seem to think that way, so that was the first time I saw that. EDDY MORETTI: The surprising thing is that he's very sincere about this, these soldiers. BEN ANDERSON: He was more emotionally involved in this than anyone else, and he's the one who I said at times almost seemed traumatized by what he couldn't do. I endorsed him a little and he had no choice but to let me go out and film with him. But he's one of those guys who just doesn't know how to lie.
He could ask him questions and you could see him struggling to find a good way to say it, but he just couldn't tell lies. I really admired him for that. -As an advisor, you are a dog that barks a lot and bites little. So there are some things where, in order to accomplish the mission, we don't turn a blind eye to anything. We report everything. But there are certain things where you would normally say, hey, this just can't be done, we're not going to do this, in order to accomplish the mission, in order for them to actually go out and still maintain security and maintain the PBs, you have to let it go. . -Things like if we had to close all their schemes, all their corruption schemes, you would make them completely ineffective.
I mean, take a look around... BEN ANDERSON: I think we were really disheartened at the end of this, because even when guys were kidnapping and raping young boys and murdering them, nothing happened as a result of their reporting. He was reporting everything he saw to more than 200 people in the chain of command. Nothing was ever done. -You have guys like that right here. This is an officer, the administrative office and the investigating officer who are here from Kabul. They are police officers trained in the academy, professionals. They can read, they can write. They believe in the rule of law.
They believe in protecting the population and the people, and treating them well. I mean, these are the guys that are easy to work with. -But then you have here a PB commander who we know is kidnapping children, sexually abusing them and robbing people. He treats the people of Sangin like a piggy bank that he can shake and steal. That's really difficult. How do you work with a guy like that? -The natural part of an advisor is to want to have the greatest effect on things, so it's easy to work with a professional AEP like this. But really what we need is to work with guys like that.
So he tries to do that day in and day out, working with child molesters, working with people who rob and murder other people. He wears you down after a while.

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