Danes in Afghanistan

When I first read that there were Danish soldiers fighting in Afghanistan I imagined them looking like the toy soldiers at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen.  At first I didn’t believe that Denmark would send soldiers to Afghanistan, partly because Afghanistan is far away from Denmark, and secondly, what does Afghanistan have to do with Denmark?  I can understand the United States involvement in Afghanistan to a certain degree, with Osama bin Laden hanging out with the Taliban, the U.S. did have a hand to play at that table, but Denmark?

Maybe it’s the fact that I grew up in Skåne, Sweden, and often visited Denmark as a child, that I have some affinity for the Danish people and culture.  Skåne actually used to be part of Denmark at one time, and with the Øresund Bridge now linking Denmark with Sweden, the region and people are closer than ever.  It’s actually neat to see Danes speaking Danish with Swedes and Swedes speaking Swedish with Danes and both sets of people understanding each other.  My appreciation for Danish people is why I am so concerned with their involvement in Afghanistan.  I recognize that their membership in NATO means that they might feel an obligation to do their part for the treaty organization, but in the past such things usually meant a field hospital or a tent or two, not a contingent of combat troops fighting a grueling and exhausting ground campaign.

I first stumbled across this film when I read about it winning the grand prize at the Cannes’ International Critics Week.  Just like Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington’s documentary Restrepo, Janus Metz’s film Armadillo will leave you breathless, bruised and battered.  Armadillo “… follows a platoon of Danish soldiers on a six-month tour of Afghanistan in 2009.  An intimate, visually stunning account of both the horror and growing cynicism of modern warfare, the film premiered at the top of the box office in Denmark, provoking a national debate over government policy and the rules of engagement.”  I highly suggest you see the movie for yourself.

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