Friday, October 17, 2008

Scott Kesterson: Afghanistan Redux

Scott Kesterson is an award winning Documentary Filmaker, a Photo Journaiist and a former American Soldier. He is also a friend of Canadian Soldiers. In the summer of 2006, Kesterson went into battle with Canadian Soldiers, Troops from Alpha Company, 2nd Platoon, "Red Devils" 1PPCLI, based in Edmonton, against the Taliban. These were some of the fiercest battles Canadian Soldiers had faced in Afghanistan to date and indeed since Korea.

Scott was sponsored in Afghanistan, by KGW, a Portland Oregon TV Station. According to the KGW website: "Three videos were produced and aired on from Operation Mountain Thrust in July of 2006. These videos captured Canadian soldiers in heavy fighting in Panjawi, Hydarabad and Sangin. This was some of the first footage of Canadians in combat since the Korean war. The videos played on, YouTube and were awarded the Emmy for Best Photography for web-based media in May of 2007 from the Lone Star Chapter of the Emmy Awards.

Troy Steward, a First Sergeant with the New York National Guard and writer of Bouhammer's Afghan Blog and a friend of Kesterson's, was serving in Afghanistan as an ETT (Embedded Tactical Trainer) with the ANA (Afghan National Army) in very dangerous conditions, situations and locations in Afghanistan at roughly the same time as Scott.

As Steward and Kesterson were writing and posting photos of conditions in Afghanistan, Old Blue, a 26 year Army veteran, was back in his home state of Ohio reading everything they wrote as he prepared himself to deploy to Afghanistan as an ETT. (It turned out to be much more complex than that, but to find out why please read his blog: Bill and Bob's Excellent Afghan Adventure one of the most compelling series of posts from a war zone that you are likely to find.)

Now home from that deployment, he recently wrote "Scott Kesterson touched me deeply with several of his posts, and became one of my heroes for his ability to convey the experience. Having had the experience, my respect for his ability has only grown. I hoped to meet him in Afghanistan; it was not to be."

Of Bouhammer he writes, "Troy's blog gave me the ability to peek inside the mission and get a glimpse of what men were going through seven thousand miles from my home. His blog inspired me and, with my own innate desire to serve, convinced me that the ETT mission was more than worthwhile; it was a calling."

Now back from their deployments in Afghanistan, Old Blue and Bouhammer have been trying to get the word out about what's really happening in Afghanistan and why we need a course correction. And Scott Kesterson? He's back in Afghanistan with the New York National Guard. Scott wanted to get a feel for what motivated these Soldiers, many of whom mobilized and served at Ground Zero in New York City on September 11, 2001, and their view on the mission now. Along with MICHAEL YON these men endeavour to get the word out regarding the importance of the mission in Afghanistan.

Recently Scott Kesterson wrote from Gardez, Afghanistan, "In July 2006 I filmed the operations of 1PPCLI from Edmonton, Canada as part of Operation Mountain Thrust. During a course of three weeks of fighting, under the leadership of LTC Hope, Taliban strong holds were disrupted or destroyed, while key elements of Taliban command and control, disrupted. A large part of the success of the Canadian’s operations were based LTC Hope’s ability to integrate the doctrine of unity of command within the battle space he controlled. In short, unity of command dictates a singular leader rather than multiple leaders or command structures competing for the same thing."

If the situation in Afghanistan is important to you, whether Canadian or American, you need to read Scott Kesterson at Bouhammer's Afghan Blog written by a man who has been in the suck. You can also follow his progress at KGW Afghanistan Blog.

“Sadly, peace is probably only understood by those that have walked in the shadow of death. War is the teacher.” - Scott Kesterson

Three videos Scott shot with 2nd Platoon, 1PPCLI in July 2006, appear below and are a vivid visulization of Scott's words above, taken from a recent e-mail to Troy Steward.

David Leeson is putting the finish to their documentary At War Film, complete with trailers, Bios and Blog at

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