Dutch Embedded Journalist Fights Alongside US Soldiers

I came across this very strange story about a Dutch documentary filmmaker embedded with US Special Forces who, when his video camera died, decided to pick up a rifle instead and fight alongside the soldiers. The video report here is very thin, a lot of the story feels like it is missing, but it is potentially a unique twist for embedded journalism. I can’t recall ever hearing about another case of this happening, and I know tons of folks will react negatively to this in a heartbeat.




The filmmaker is Vic Franke and the documentary is called On Killing: The Aftermath. He says of the project,

This documentary portrays the private lives of two US Special Forces operators in Afghanistan as well as in the privacy of their homes stateside.

Filmmaker Vik Franke experienced all of this, while making “09:11 Zulu“, a documentary on the Dutch and US special Forces in Afghanistan. Riding with them in the desert for two months, hunting for the Taliban, he even had to pick up a gun himself in a huge ambush. The impact of the experience on his own life and having become of the ‘Fraternity Born in the Smoke of Danger & Death’ was enough to look up the only guys that he could talk to about it.

After looking at his website, the trailers for his films and the way he describes the work (including in this video piece), it appears to me that he seems quite eager to join the fight as a bit of a thrill. It comes off very inappropriate and rather offensive, and from what I’ve seen with these examples it really calls in to question the point of his films. Can you ever pick up a gun and still call yourself a documentary filmmaker? Can we take this work seriously? And what the hell does the US military have to say about such a thing?

(via War is Boring. Video report by Een Vandaag, Radio Netherlands Worldwide)

4 Responses to “Dutch Embedded Journalist Fights Alongside US Soldiers”

  1. MIkal W. Grass

    If his life was in danger in the ambush, he had every right to pick up a weapon to defend himself and the soldiers protecting him.

    No honor or sense in dying during the making of a film just because some armchair quarterback or photojournalist whose raison d’etre is taking pics of three legged cats, disagrees.

  2. Brian Black

    I doubt that he would be treated any differently to the military forces he was with, were he to be held by the Taliban or AQ.

    There are many deliberate attacks against non-combatants in Afghanistan already. While his actions may damage journalistic integrity in some people’s eyes, it doesn’t really have any negative effect in a theatre in which the enemy has no discernible ethical code of it’s own.

  3. D

    I think its a joke for people to judge ANYONE for defending themselves in a time of war. Anyone who is against fighting terrorism, regardless of what context its in, is a moron. Its like the same lame brained hippies who threw poop at soldiers returning from Vietnam even tho they were DRAFTED and had no choice but to go and fight. Same idiots that protest the wars today…seriously.

  4. Floyd

    Agreed. As a former journalism student and a former soldier, if I were to cover stories in a war zone, especially THAT war zone, I would definitely bring a sidearm. Like Brian Black pointed out, the forces we’re fighting against over there wouldn’t bother to make the distinction between soldier and reporter. It would be in your best interests to learn how to shoot prior to entering the war zone so that you could defend yourself and the soldiers you’re covering.

    The easy way out would be to say, “Just don’t cover the war stories and don’t be an embedded journalist.” But then I think it’s vitally important for the American people to understand exactly what they’re sending their troops to do, and what impact that’s having on the world situation.

    And D, as Sammy L. Davis, Medal of Honor recipient in Vietnam, says, “Those who demand the most freedom have often earned it the least.”

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