Full Battle Rattle [Documentary]

Posted on June 5, 2008


Out in the middle of the Mojave desert at Ft. Irwin, California, is a billion dollar mock Iraq village in an Army training center, filled with Iraqi roll players. Before units are deployed to Iraq, they come here for three weeks to simulate what they will encounter in Iraq.

The subject of Full Battle Rattle is fascinating, and a new take on that war on terror and other fears. From a documentary standpoint, it’s a great opportunity because you get to shoot war from both sides, though, of course, this wasn’t a perfect model of Iraq. In fact, it was probably the ideal Iraq. For the roll players, you have Sunni, Shiite, and Christians all living and working together, getting along great behind the scenes.

But the actual roll playing, and what the Army puts the units through, was very interesting. Of course you have your usual party-crashing, AK-47 tottin’ Taliban. But the main objective for the unit was to make peace with a town and build a town center. There was even a mock TV crew and news channel that the commander had to use effectively.

Of course things don’t seem too promising when the simulation ends in destruction and the town mayor is dead. Nor is it a good sign that when the documentary started there were only 3 mock villages, and when it ended there were 12.

If you’re tired of Iraq films, then this won’t really offer anything new. But if you want to explore an elaborate, interesting step the Army goes through, then check it out.

[This post is part of a series about the documentaries I saw at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival]

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