In BAKER BOYS: INSIDE THE SURGE (2010), veteran war cameraman Jon Steele embedded with an infantry company in 3ID deployed in Iraq in 2008 during the strategy called the Surge, where coalition forces ramped up the number of ground troops to destroy the insurgency. This four-part documentary series beautifully portrays the life and mindset of the American soldier.
So often in the media, soldiers are portrayed as gritty, heroic, patriotic grunts or mere numbers in a war story. In fact, it was because of this distrust of embedded journalists that Baker Company did not immediately warm to Steele, believing he was there in the hopes of watching them get blown up for juicy footage, for a good story. He made them a deal, telling them he was willing to do everything they did, even die, if they would talk to him. After a while, they opened up, and Steele was able to get months of footage.
We see the Baker boys go about their duties, providing a procedural story about counter-insurgency, which involved fighting but far more deal-making with American dollars to get the Iraqis to side with the Americans over the insurgents. Between these scenes, the soldiers talk about their mission, how the American public regarded the war, what combat is like, what it’s like to lose friends, what it’s like to be apart from loved ones for long deployments, and plenty more. These are very young men doing one of the world’s most dangerous jobs, and Steele lets them speak for themselves, which makes this documentary so powerful. After a while, you feel start to feel embedded yourself.
I don’t know where you can catch this through any streaming services except YouTube, where I stumbled on it by accident. I found BAKER BOYS powerful, engaging, and moving.