“12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers”, based on the book “Horse Soldiers” by Doug Stanton, directed by Nicolai Fuglsig and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, is a large historical war film, available in Imax, about the initial American intervention in Afghanistan right after 9/11.
The covert operation in eastern Afghanistan comprised some CIA operatives but mainly US Army Special Forces, Green Berets, Operational Detachment 595. It achieved a major victory against Al Qaeda in about three weeks, helping buttress the Northern Alliance, which Sebastian Junger’s subsequent books, articles and films would cover. The lead is Captain Mitch Nelson, played by Chris Hemsworth, with the laconic Michael Shannon playing CWO Cal Spencer. The main NO ally is Gen/ Abdul Rashid Dostum, played by Navid Negahban.
The film starts with the history trail of terror attacks, going back to the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, followed by Kenya in 1998, the USS Cole in 2000, and then 9/11. The film shows 9/11 as seen from a special forces base in Kentucky (I thought it would have been Fort Bragg, NC). We see it only after both towers and the Pentagon have been hit. During the morning hours, many observers expected over 10,000 civilian dead in NYC.
The politics of the engagement seem to be the point of the film. All this happened before Bush addressed the nation on a Sunday afternoon in early October 2001. Dostum makes the point that once the Americans are there, they will be perceived as cowards if they leave, or enemies if they stay. Nelson has to deal with the reality of playing one warlord against another, when some warlords were more concerned about their competitors than they were about the Taliban, with its fanatical religious fundamentalism. Nelson, before the final battle scene, makes the point that the special op (at the time SCI Top Secret) is necessary to prevent more 9/11’s on the homeland. Yet if the Bush administration knew enough to put together this operation so quickly, why couldn’t it prevent 9/11?
The film was shot on location in New Mexico, apparently just north of Albuquerque. I visited the area, specifically the Lama Foundation north of Taos, in 1980 and 1984.
The film is a 2018 release, and apparently is not part of the 2017 awards season.
I still remember that in 1958, in ninth grade, when we studied the middle east in geography, I chose Afghanistan for my report. How prescient.
Northern Alliance Picture, December 2001, Wiki.
|Name:||“12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers”|
|Director, writer:||Nicolai Fuglsig, Doug Stanton|
|When and how viewed:||Regal Potomac Yards. 2018/1/25, fair mid afternoon audience for a weekday|
|Companies:||Warner Brothers, Black Label Media, Jerry Bruckheimer Films|
(Posted: Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 9:15 PM EST)