Reviews | Iraqi veterans, 20 years later: George W. Bush “owes me at least a beer”
A few months after the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, I began filming the United States Army’s 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment (known as the Gunners) in Baghdad . The unit was housed in a bombed-out palace on the banks of the Tigris which they named Gunner Palace.
Rather than make a film about men, I offered to make a film together – an offer the soldiers quickly accepted. They told the story of the war as only they could: they played guitars, spit rhymes and performed in front of the camera. But behind all their bravado and posturing, they were just children who desperately wanted the world to understand the war through their eyes.
In the last two months of 2003, the Gunners lost three men to IED attacks. They rushed to create makeshift armor for their soft-skinned vehicles using scrap metal. Asked by a soldier about the lack of armor in 2004, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said, “You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish you had later. .
It was the army we had. They fought an enemy they couldn’t always see in a land they didn’t understand for reasons that were never quite clear. In the midst of the pandemic, I visited the men and spoke to them about how they make sense of their role in a war that has yet to be fully considered. In the short documentary above, the veterans grapple with a past that still resonates powerfully in their lives.