12 Strong - Movie Review

Even as the world is watching news on TV channels and on social media with shock horror and despair, how thousands of Afghans are trying to flee the country ever since the country has been taken over by the Taliban last week(Aug. ‘21), there has been so many past videos, case studies and Docus which are being widely circulated and discussed. While I am no one to judge whether it was right on the part of the US to have waged the war or not – I am neither a global political spokesperson nor an American, I fully empathise with the life and times of the locals, women and girl children especially, who are scared for their lives with times ahead. And with the Taliban gaining control day after day, establishing a new “Emirate of Taliban” and formally announcing to follow the Muslim Sharia Law, things don’t look good at all. 

On the morning of 11 Sep. 2001, families are having a normal day suddenly when Tv news channels show how two aeroplanes attacked the Worth Trade Centre in New York at 8.54am local time. To the horror of children, the aged and veterans, the country witnessed how one of the worst ever civilian terror attacks happened in the soil which was considered not just safest but also the most liberal one in the world. The 80s and 90s of America was something which many learned citizens across the world aspired for. Millions of children in schools and colleges aspired to go to the land of dreams that was America (not anymore!) based on popular Rock as well as Pop-culture, the liberal political climate, a law and order situation which was considered bipartisan yet strict, a booming tech valley in the making, a fledgling shopping and retail scenario, which meant jobs for thousands as well as business opportunities and most importantly, world class education. Everything – every single thing of this has changed about America drastically since then. 

Capt. Nelson of the US Army is the first one to react to this catastrophe even as he and his wife are unpacking stuff in their new home and heads to his office, but he is not in the team, says his superior, which will fight back the terrorists. Against all odds, he lands up being in the forefront in the very first attack on Afghan soil to retaliate the air strike on the Twin Towers and leads the Operational Detachment Alpha ODA 595. 

Perhaps, this was the beginning of the US insurgence in to Afghan soil. 20 years later, in Aug. ’21, the US forces abruptly exited the very same country which they captured, built to what it is today with international support while also fighting the Taliban, ISIS, al Qaeda and most importantly, capturing and killing Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks. On the political ideology, both the Democrats and the Republicans have risen the bar of patriotism between themselves while the most recent Trump and Biden administration are being blamed for the current crisis situation in Af. 

Capt. Nelson and 11 others land up in the mountain peaks of Uzbekistan in 19 Oct. ’11 and trek many miles to reach Camp Alamo where they meet General Dostum who is a part of the Northern Alliance, a group of Afghan Nationalists who want to oust the prevailing Taliban rule in the country. How he helps the 12 Americans to capture Mazar-i-Sharif province, a stronghold of the Taliban, is the rest of the film with some endearing moments of camaraderie, love and respect among the warriors (vs. soldiers) and how together this victorious moment was the first step towards establishing a democratic rule in Afghanistan which eventually fell away to ramparts. If these 12 men had not set sail on the Afghan soil in this clandestine operation, things may have been very different today in the world order. The movie is based on the Doug Stanton’s book “Horse Soldiers” – how these 12 brave men and their “allies” fought against a heavy artillery of the Taliban including machine guns and tankers on horseback with fewer men and machines. Watch on Netflix. 


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