Hello. My name is Ben Anderson. I've been covering various wars for the last twelve years.

For the last six years, I've been traveling to Helmand, Afghanistan's most violent province. I've seen huge loss of life and limb there- and destruction of property. Most of the country has now been handed over to the Afghan security forces, which is supposed to be progress. Some officials even claim it is victory. I was with those security forces last November and December, and the chaos and corruption I saw was deeply shocking.

I can't avoid thinking that we aren't leaving because we have achieved our goals, we are leaving because we've given up on them.

You can watch the whole film on VICE here: http://www.vice.com/en_uk/vice-news/this-is-what-winning-looks-like-full-length

The official statements say we are handing the Afghan people a rosy future. My film shows that is far from true... which has led to many questions. I wanted to do this to try and give you some honest answers - AMA

Here's a link to a tweet I just did about this AMA: https://twitter.com/BenJohnAnderson/status/335410756751351808

EDIT: Dear all, I'm exhausted and gasping for a drink... Thanks for all the questions. It's made my day to think that the film had this much impact...I'm heading home now, but will check in again later if there are any more questions. Hopefully I answered most, even though I couldn't answer every question that was along similar lines...



Comments: 1101 • Responses: 68  • Date: 

duce2231234 karma

VICE has grown so dramatically in the past decade, do you think that a TV channel will ever be made? If so, what content other than VICE documentaries will be made?

duranben311 karma

I'll think you'll see a channel fairly soon...I love their approach. traditional TV can be so myopic. Vice aren't aware of what other stations are doing, all they want to do is cover the important, interesting or amusing stories

manboy10221 karma

What is the most humane act of kindness you've ever seen over there?

duranben600 karma

Many times, I've ended up in a house with a family who are obviously desperately poor- every time they will offer literally their last piece of bread or their last bit of water

The Afghan people I've met, even those caught in the middle of the worst fighting, airstrikes and night raids, have been unbelievably generous, warm and hospitable

G35137 karma

What is the most upsetting thing you've seen?

duranben269 karma

Foreign forces and the Taliban seem happy to meet up and have a fight. It almost feels like football hooliganism with guns. But it's impossible to avoid civilian casualties out there, there have been thousands and probably ten times as many have lost limbs. You wouldn't believe how many triple and quadruple amputees there have been

workworkwort115 karma

How many Marines secretly told you that they wanted to kill those pedophiles? Did any meet their maker while you were there?

The scene with the British and American embassadors was particularly hard to watch, impossible not to go on an anger rampage.

Edit: *Ambassador

duranben137 karma

None on this recent trip. A few Brits and marines have expressed sentiments like that on previous trips...I think many will always think that if they were allowed to take the gloves over and really fight, they could have won. I've heard the same argument made about Vietnam. or if they were just given another few years...I don't agree with either.

None met their makers. One was actually promoted!

The_Thane_Of_Cawdor40 karma

What would be an example of being able to "take the gloves off"?

duranben128 karma

there is a lot of hatred for the ROEs- rules of engagement. Marines aren't allowed to fire until they see an undeniably hostile act being committed. This means it's fairly easy for someone to shoot at marines, drop their weapon and escape. It's not my view, but many feel that their hands are tied, and if they weren't, they could wipe out the Taliban in no time.

stagnant9470 karma

but the amount of civilian casualties would probably be increased. it's a difficult line to draw.

duranben130 karma

that's why I disagree that taking the gloves of would mean winning. There was a more aggressive approach taken by one newly arrived battalion of US marines- it scuppered a peace deal for the area that had been two years in the making

The_Thane_Of_Cawdor14 karma

So what would be a specific operational change?

I feel like the Russian's had pretty loose ROE's when they were there, so what would be the difference?

duranben35 karma

they had very loose ROEs! and we know how that worked out...

hpjj110 karma

I was really surprised at the amount of pedophilia the Afghan police engaged in. Is it a cultural thing? Are the other police sickened by it or is it just a normal thing?

duranben116 karma

It surprises me as well. And I wish I could give you an authoritative explanation. It seems so at odds with such a religiously conservative country. But it is culturally fairly routine- at least amongst many of the senior police, officials and warlords

Jennypjd24 karma

This was the most disturbing part of the Vice videos, when one of the leaders walked by a Chai boy and caressed his head like a lover....CREEPY!!!

andrewhein16 karma

Another documentary that covers the problem with pedophile in the area is The Dancing boys of Afghanistan from PBS.

duranben23 karma

that is an amazing documentary

Mojon5100 karma

Hello Ben, it's a bit of a broad question but do you envision Afghanistan having a viable future in terms of equality towards women, economically, and as a new democracy?

duranben197 karma

Not for a long time, although in some provinces there has been significant process- and there are some exceptionally brave women pushing boundaries and challenging the old order. But in rural Afghanistan the situation remains bleak. Women can be locked up for the "moral crime" of running away from violent husbands or arranged marriages. It's a common mistake to think that the Taliban and our allies have different views on women's rights. All too often, they don't.

jimmyrustlerette96 karma

What's the best advice you can give someone interested in international reporting?

duranben150 karma

get out there, find some interesting characters trying to do something exceptional, or people whose suffering you want to depict, and stay for as long as possible. Photographers are amazing at doing this, writers are sometimes very good...I try to copy them.

When you're starting out, you also have the luxury of being able to just hang around and soak things up...this is essential. I've done shoots where I feel like I'm just beginning to understand a situation and I have to go, it's so frustrating

st_archer156 karma

I used to work as a photographer in a variety of war zones. My break right after journalism school came from wandering into the Baltics Balkans War ( am so old now). I got there simply by taking a train across the border from Italy. No assignment, a few phone numbers of different news agencies, and a friendly smile.

From there I just blundered my way from town to town taking pictures and then offering them up to the various agencies. Lived in other peoples homes or bomb shelters or in the field.

I got pictures published made connections and found myself with a career. It was foolish and dangerous and that is exactly what the job entails. War photographers are a special breed of nuts, the reporters a little less. Learn to smoke and drink and share stories.

If you want to do international you have to go. Sitting behind a desk doing phone interviews won't do it. You have to travel on your own because no one is going to give it to you. You get to do the job because you are there.

edit** reddit gold! Sploosh!!! Thanks :)

duranben42 karma

Couldn't agree with this more- I usually try and copy the photographers, who seem to be the least well paid, and the least famous, but know, and have seen, the most

BosmanJ79 karma

Have you ever had the feeling you were in a life-threatening situation? If yes, what kind of situation?

duranben123 karma

watch Battle for Bomb Alley and Battle for Marjah! both on youtube. The fighting out there and the IED threat, are both hideous. The Taliban have some very good snipers too...

Nigga_dawg77 karma

How do you think that the Police will act when US troops leave? I know from your previous writing that it is incredibly corrupt, and I can only imagine it getting worse. Do you think that overall a positive impact was made and will last, or will everything revert back to how it was but with different people in power?

duranben148 karma

My view is less important than many trusted Afghan friends, one of whom said to me "half the Police will vanish, half will join the Taliban." We were talking about the south...I think the whole country will be separated into warlord run fiefdoms, with the Taliban controlling much of the south and east. Many Afghan people seem to be preparing for this now, as if it has already happened

AnarchistBusinessMan50 karma

quoted Many Afghan people seem to be preparing for this now, as if it has already happened

In what ways are the Afghan people preparing for this now?

ncfanton35 karma

They are leaving the country, going to Dubai or Saudi Arabia. Esp. the ones who can afford it. And quite honestly do you blame them? How many people want to stay in the Ghettos in the US?

duranben28 karma

absolutely right

TheDVille7 karma


duranben22 karma

There are plenty of areas where the Taliban are doing a better job of providing justice and security than our allies are. And key point- they are not going anywhere. We've almost left already and many of our allies will be gone soon after we are...so siding with the Taliban could be basic pragmatism.

Drag_king16 karma

It's more likely that the Taliban are seen as the way to peace and security to them, especially for the Pashtuns. They can either chose to be ruled by warlords who will keep the country will be in a continuous state of war, or being ruled religious clerics who will unify the country and have some kind or rule of law. They will most likely chose the latter, especially since in their eyes having sharia law is not a bad thing, it's the kind of law that is indemic to that region.

The northern part, with different ethnicities and cultures, might view things differently so my guess is that there will be 2 Afganistans, in a continuous low level civil war with each other.

Edit: words

duranben8 karma


slowtopcat75 karma

how hard was it to travel around in Afghanistan? and also what is it like flying there?

duranben137 karma

in the south, I can only fly in military helicopters and planes. Journalists are right at the bottom of the priority list for seats, so sometimes you have to wait days for a ride to take you 20km...

It's become much easier recently as the withdrawal gets under way

jaycurve69 karma


duranben136 karma

massive, especially when you know how many people ion all sides are involved in the opium trade (which has flourished since we arrived) and many people there, including the Police, use Opium to stave off hunger, cold, or fear. It's everywhere

RadicalParticle54 karma

What was the toughest thing for you to see/film/watch while there?

And was there ever a moment in which you wanted to physically act but couldn't to preserve your status as an observer?

duranben153 karma

The toughest thing is always seeing civilians who are stuck in the middle, can't afford to flee, and often don;t know where their injured family members have been taken. Many have told me they have received no help whatsoever, from us or their government. I always dream of what could have happened if we gave 5% of the military budget to some of the amazing NGOs operating in Afghanistan, and didn't try to defeat the Taliban before attempting a serious development effort. I think things could have been radically different

RadicalParticle16 karma

Thanks for replying! Are there any charities in particular you recommend to help these people?

duranben11 karma

watch "walking wounded" to see the amazing work that Emergency do

perche51 karma

How much do the afghans hate the US? The West in general?

duranben147 karma

Not at all as far as I can see...many have very good relations with the troops on the ground, even after major operations, or civilian casualties. People's anger seems to aimed at the corrupt and predatory government and security forces we've put in power...

ng73148 karma

When NATO removes its troops, do you think that the Taliban will take over?

duranben79 karma

I think they'll take the southern and eastern provinces, they already control much of them.

I don't see them taking the whole country, but to my surprise, many Afghan friends and colleagues think it's a serious possibility

Throwawaygkm38 karma

Hello Ben, I really loved all of your documentaries, especially the latest one. I spent my childhood in dodgy countries and come from a family with a huge military history and I would like to get involved in these conflicts without being a soldier. Is it possible to become a journalist like you without having studied journalism, and if so do you have any tips or recommendations?

duranben89 karma

I didn't study journalism. I think the most important qualities you need are just curiosity and compassion. That can't be taught at college. My favorite journalists all have unorthodox approaches, and certainly weren't taught at college

Kingsley-Zissou36 karma

I was embedded with the Afghan National Police as an advisor in northern Helmand. Every Thursday our police would have a celebration where they ate, smoked hash, and invariably played pin the tail on the donkey with one of the young men working for the police. The police referred to the practice as "jiggy jiggy," and informed us that women were for procreation, and boys were recreation. They flatly denied participating in homosexual behavior, and insinuations of such occasionally resulted in the police turning their weapons on Marines. For the most part, this was limited to the unmarried police, and usually the chai boy was a junior policeman. Meanwhile, the district governor compound was like the Afghan equivalent of neverland ranch with children coming and going all the time. We knew what was taking place behind those walls, but our hands were tied seeing as how the governor was the major powerbroker in the village. There was a lot of really heart-wrenching stuff that I saw take place out there.

duranben25 karma

I've seen the same myself many times, and have heard the same from others like you. How it is not acknowledged by our officials I do not know- it's so well known by so many people like you.

Thanks for positing

pseudolobster34 karma

Any idea why you guys seem to be one of the last vestiges of investigative journalism these days?

It seems VICE and Rolling Stone are some of the only news outlets that actually try and get to the bottom of a story, whereas CNN for example, just reiterates AP blurbs most of the time, and when they do send out a correspondent, they end up flying to Afghanistan just to use it as a backdrop for a talking head spitting AP blurbs.

duranben78 karma

I don't know that it's that bad- I still read amazing work in the New Yorker, Harper's, the Atlantic...and there are more specialist outlets like the Afghan Analysts network doing incredible work

The American new channels do seem to assume you are all stupid 11 year olds though, with the attention span of a goldfish...

4ourfeathers33 karma

Thanks for doing this. VICE Docs have been really great to watch.

How soon do you see an internal civil war once we leave the country and why?

duranben65 karma

The latest estimate is that 310 Afghan Police and Army are being killed every month...civilian casualties continue to rise. Taliban attacks are also on the increase. I'd say the civil war has already started...our big mistake was to back one side in it, and not create a truly "national" security force

pppparf32 karma

the new vice documentary was honestly brilliant, thank you for that. i want to ask, does the feelings of the advisor shown in the film represent that of many like him? and following that. did it strike you how kind of messed up it was that although the advisor was in the meeting with the ambassador, that he was not able to express what was really happening on the ground? again, thank you. i hope that you continue to work with vice in the future.

duranben57 karma

no, he was rare. he and his team were just 18 men. They were the only ones who went out most days and struggle with all those problems. The infantry- usually the first out the gate- were stuck on the main base lifting weights and watching dvds. The lack of knowledge (or maybe just acknowledgment) from the senior officials was genuinely shocking. Major Steuber is the only CO I've ever met who took all his men home in one piece, but you could still see how much the tour effected him...

pppparf29 karma

thanks for answering, if you ever get in touch with major steuber again. could you ask him to maybe do an ama one day? it would be great it ask him some questions.

duranben54 karma

I'll ask him, but his bosses might not let him...he's a very good man, so honest

stevegreens31 karma


duranben32 karma

I like David Carr a lot...and agreed with him when he took Vice to task for criticizing the mainstream media in that documentary about the New York Times (Page one?) - if you know where to look, there are many amazing journalists working for the mainstream media- including the NYT. But trust me, Vice are getting very serious now, they've got some serious people working there, working very hard and very well. They'll give anyone else a run for their money

stevegreens10 karma


duranben8 karma

The david Carr at Vice scene was one of the highlights- but it's worth watching just for him, he's brilliant

MTheOverlord25 karma

Hi Ben, thanks for doing this AMA. I'm really curious how you got into covering wars specifically (i.e. both in terms of circumstances, and personal motivation). And how you got affiliated with VICE.

(big questions, but I'm not trying to be a dick--just looking for short answers, if you have time).

duranben46 karma

see answer above about how I got into it...

When VICE were launching, they approached me, and I really liked their internationalist approach, and their total disregard for the rules. I send them an idea, they either ignore me, or say yes, and we come to an agreement within minutes. This isa breath of fresh air compared to most of the traditional TV networks

zimraphel24 karma

Not related to Afghanistan. What's the biggest misconception people have about Vice?

duranben51 karma

that they're more interested in drinking, drugs and tattoos than they are in telling important stories. I'm not staff at Vice, I'm not getting paid by them now, so I say this without any ulterior motive

johnycopor23 karma

Hi Ben. If I were to script, shoot and edit an awesome film about stuff that is happening in prisons in Malta because I know people who could get me inside, how could I get it published on VICE? I love your channel and you guys do what I've always dreamt of doing.

duranben36 karma

send me a few clips or a side of A4, I'd be more than happy to pass it on to the decision makers there... you can do it through Twitter @BenJohnAnderson

FinKM21 karma

Have you had any more contact with Major Steuber? It was fascinating to hear about his experiences and thoughts about the future, would be interesting to see how things are going.

duranben26 karma

I am in regular contact with him. I think he deserves a medal. I'm not sure he's had anything...

Jahoby20 karma

Do you plan on going to other countries or are you sticking with Afghanistan for the next while?

duranben57 karma

I'm talking about Syria next...I'd like to cover Iraq again, the West bank, Gaza, Congo...if you do this for a living, you're lucky in that there are always so many places you want to go and cover

dstation19 karma

Your film very deftly incorporates how the powers that be choose to portray the situation in Afganistan (in contrast to the reality) by getting the direct opinions of the UK and US Ambassadors and juxtaposing them with the accounts of Major Bill Steuber. As a result, said ambassadors come off particularly badly - and rightly so. My question is, since the film has come out, have you had any response from any of the people who contribute opinions to your film, and if not, do you expect any?

duranben17 karma

None- but I would love to gear what they think now that they know what was happening just 500m metres away from that briefing they got. I won't hold my breath...you can follow them all on Twitter, they seem sure things are going very well...but if they only get briefings like, maybe it's not their fault? I always assumed that in private at least, they were told everything. Now I'm not so sure...

salvialol19 karma

Hey Ben! Big fan of you work, besides working with Vice and making your own documentaries, I still very much enjoy the old series Holidays in the Danger Zone you did for BBC. Great work!

Enough butt kissing, what made you want to do this for a living?

duranben50 karma

I read about the invasion of East TImor when I was 17 and that Britain was supplying some of the weapons. I almost wanted to run out into the streets and tell everyone. I couldn't believe it wasn't front page news everywhere. I still have the same feeling now. That's why it's hard to imagine doing anything else...

Thanks for the butt kissing!

AugustusAgdgdgwngo16 karma

What's the scariest situation you've ever been in?

duranben55 karma

too many close shaves with IEDs, I've been terrified of losing my legs, and maybe balls, many times. It got so bad in some places that you had to walk in the bootprints of the guy in front of you, there were so many IEDs.

Day one of the invasion of Marjah was very bad, I was with 26 marines, surrounded by about 40 Taliban, and after we dived into a ditch, the marines either side of me got hit, one badly. I thought I was a gonner that day, I was convinced of it

you can watch both these incidents in "Battle for Bomb Alley" and "Battle for Marjah" on youtube

Woolies14 karma

thought your documentary was great but do you think you would have achieved a similar result had you not been embedded with the military?

duranben27 karma

I was alone with the Afghan Police and Army a few times...and they seem happy about letting me film exactly how they operate. I'm planning some non-embedded trips soon...but in Helmand the threat of kidnap is still very high

Prerequisite14 karma

Do you honestly see the middle-eastern conflict resolving itself internally?

Do you have an educated guess as to when stability will return to the area? 10, 50, 100 years?

Is separation of church and state on the minds of many everyday afghans?

duranben32 karma

People seem exhausted by it all, so hopefully not 100 years...

The idea of separation of church (mosque?) and state would be horrific to most people I've met out there...

duranben12 karma

Dear all,

I'm exhausted and gasping for a drink...

Thanks for all the questions. It's made my day to think that the film had this much impact...I'm heading home now, but will check in again later if there are any more questions. Hopefully I answered most, even though I couldn't answer every question that was along similar lines...



silbs11 karma

Was there a time or situation when you and your film crew were ready to pack up and get out of there?

duranben40 karma

no film crew, it's just me...

I had moments like that, but as soon as you survive, you're ready to go out again. You quite quickly develop a pretty stupid level of complacence

silver_seven10 karma

When you go home, do you find it difficult to re-adjust to normal life knowing the horrors that come from the Afghanistan war & people.

duranben23 karma

very, I just put myself in a hotel room for a few days on the way home...this has become essential. Only after that can you enjoy seeing friends and family again

Bu3ouf9 karma

During your stay in Afghanistan, was there any encounter which made you regret taking the trip?

duranben20 karma

never, I have always learnt a lot on each trip, I've always had my opinions shaken, I've always been surprised by something. I think this will always be the case if you're lucky enough to be able to hang around somewhere...I spent 5 weeks out there this time and because I work alone, you are talking to people all the time, always seeing things, always learning. I quit university, now I feel like I'm getting to design my own degree course every year

cahibo8 karma

From my own experience, the hardest part of putting a documentary together is raising the capital...do you agree?

We've also met a couple times before in Afghanistan and New York...Carlos here if you remember me, think you do great work and hope to see you again! You're the real deal.

duranben9 karma

How you doing Carlos? For sure, and actually that's a good point to make for all the aspiring filmmakers on here. I get so many ideas that i fall in love with, but just can't get backing for, that's one of the hardest things about this job, especially as a freelancer. But it's amazing how films - even great films like Searching for SugarMan, an Oscar winner- were turned down again and again and again...when you get that one that you're burning to make, you just have to keep going and never take no for an answer

SaltedMeats7 karma


duranben42 karma

There have been some efforts at eradication, but if we took away the poorest people's only source of income, not to mention the source of Taliban and many politicians funding...then the insurgency would be an insurrection

I suggest we buy it all and turn it into painkiller instead of heroin

Blissfully_idiotic7 karma

Amazing documentary!

Do you think there will be any repercussion to the US once they withdraw from Afganistan that might end up drawing them back in? such as terrorist attacks or do you think they'll try to wash their hands of the whole affair and keep some distance.


duranben16 karma

no, the links between the taliban and Al Qaeda were massively overblown. Read the excellent "An Enemy We Created" for a much better portrayal of this than I can give

nozdryov6 karma

When you're travelling to locations such as Helmand for long periods, what do you miss most about good ol' Blighty?

duranben12 karma

not a lot, surprisingly. I used to compile lusts of things I wanted to do as soon as I got home- seeing people, eating meals, watching films...but it was always such an anti-climax when i actually got to do them, that now I've stopped. But please don't think it's exciting out there, or an adrenaline rush- it really isn't. It's just often so dramatic that normal life back at home can be a disappointment

ailee436 karma

So while you werent there before the war, and while the future is far from rosy, heres a question.

In your opinion, are the countries citizens better off than they were in 2002 when they were under the taliban and varying warlords rule?

duranben10 karma

In Helmand and Kandahar, no.

Bear in mind that the Taliban might retake those areas soon anyway, or we might do a peace deal where they are handed those areas

Brinsy6 karma

Hey Ben. I really enjoy your work.

Noticed there is a stark difference between the edit done for Vice and the cut done for Panorama a couple of months back? Obviously there were time constraints but it lost some of the tone in its brevity -especially the Jarga council/Major Steuber reaction and Deputy Ambassador Nic Hailey footage which was staggering.

Were you pissed off or was the extended version exclusive to Vice?Also, what version was shown at the Frontline Club screening?

duranben9 karma

I wasn't pissed off- they tried to get me an hour long slot at the BBC, but couldn't. And some of the quotes from that Police Chief were just too much for pre-9pm sadly. But I get it...

I would have loved to have had time to include the briefing, but I didn't feel that showing officials making fanciful statements was as important as the footage I got of the Police in action

fibreglassfish6 karma

I think the film gave a fantastic reflection of existing problems we haven't dealt with. But how do you think we can make people with the power to change (like Nic Hailey) accountable for ignoring the reality you've shown?

duranben11 karma

I wish I could, I approached the main ISAF office for a response, but they ignored me

Me2S3M5 karma

Hi Ben, If our withdrawal is due more to giving up than accomplishing our goals, isn't giving up more of an acknowledgement that these goals could not be achieved via military intervention in the first place? Seems that this was doomed to fail from the start since it's also the forces of tradition and culture that we're up against, not just the Taliban.

duranben10 karma

you're right, except we're not acknowledging that at all, we are claiming to have achieved our goals. And I don't see any serious development effort being made once we leave...

You know we didn't build a single hospital?

There have been some built by amazing NGOs like Emergency, but the NATO countries there didn't build one. That says it all...

Jerglings5 karma

Hi Ben. One of my buddies who is 0311 in the Marine Corps and did a few deployments in Afghanistan said this is the most accurate portrayal of the reality over there so far. It's a lot easier to believe all the crazy stories my friends come home with now. Thank you for what you're doing.

At the end of the film, you say that "we could've gotten it right" over there. What do you believe the west should have done differently to ensure 'success'? What have you learned that contradicts beliefs that factors like tribal rivalries, religious extremism, etc. played a role in the current state of Afghanistan?

Again, thank you for a great film and your incredible work! Take care

duranben11 karma

I'm very glad to hear that from your marine friend, thank you. Many of the guys I am still in touch with were surprised by the outrage this film provoked- they all said they've been seeing the same stuff for years...

We re-empowered the worst warlords and rushed off to Iraq. There was no attempt at nation building until 2008/2009 at the earliest, by then it was far too late

Mr_Evil_MSc4 karma

What did you make of Ross Kemp's journalistic efforts..?

duranben13 karma

I didn't see him make any journalistic efforts?

starside4 karma

Shortly after the Boston bombings the media flooded the airways with extremely graphic photos of the victims. Why do you think they don't do that with news regarding Afghanistan? And to a further extent, why doesn't that shit ever make the news anymore to begin with?

duranben12 karma

I wish I knew the answer to that one. Or I wish it wasn't the case. As awful as Boston was, it is far worse in many places, on a daily basis...especially in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan

MineTurtle3 karma

Hey ben thanks for doing this I watched part 1-2 and am going to finish up part 3 tonight but I have a question, when you visited the afghan police was it a normal thing for them to be on some type of drug?

duranben5 karma

as normal as Brits drinking tea or NYPD eating doughnuts

chw33 karma

Question about the filmmaking aspect: what camera setups do you use in your coverage? What are the essential pieces of gear you always bring?

duranben4 karma

Canon 305, lightweight tripod, radio mics (which I hardly ever use) and a few bags of wet wipes!

army1113 karma

To what extent is the Karzai govt made up old Northern Alliance war lords ? How do people in the south percieve the northern alliance ?

duranben3 karma

as their old enemies, and almost as foreign as us...it's not a "national" Army

LocoDoritoTaco3 karma

did you watch the office finale last night?

duranben16 karma

I'm back in London now so no. But I have t say, as a Brit, I loved the UK version of the Office. It was such an accurate portrayal of small town english life. It could easily be documentary...

Purpleorgrape3 karma

Did you have a belief in a god or deity before going to afghanistan? If you did seeing everything you saw shake or destroy your belief?

duranben4 karma

I don't, no. If I did, I think that faith would have been rocked not just but Helmand, but also Congo, Gaza, Liberia...the list goes on.

FatTonyWilliam3 karma

What is the closest distance you have ever been to a bomb going off?

duranben4 karma

about 20 feet...watch Battle for Bomb Alley

Elceeney2 karma

Any more documentaries with Vice in the pipe-line that you can tell us about? Are you gonna be spending more time in Afghanistan or have you had enough of that place?!

duranben9 karma

as the official statements get more ridiculous and fanciful, I get more drive to keep covering the conflict. I especially want to keep covering it once most western troops have gone. It seems to have vanished from our news already- imagine what will happen when we are hardly there any more...

kadenov2 karma

What was it like emotionally being a filmmaker in Afghanistan?

duranben5 karma

heartbreaking, very often

Wolgie2 karma

Firstly, I applaud you for your efforts on digging to find the hard truths that people do not want to hear, so the media ignores. Secondly, I am curious to know about the size of your production team, and who these crazy bastards are out there helping you capture the amazing footage and stories you have unearthed. Thirdly, what culture shocks do you have coming back into the safety of the first world and how does your experience in the middle east shape your opinion about the mocked "first world problems"?

duranben3 karma

It's just me. I carry everything I need on my back. This means I can get to places a team or crew could never get to. I can also run around, sleep rough, and spend weeks on end with one set of characters. This means I am learning and seeing things all the time, as well as developing strong relationships with the people I'm filming. I can't imagine working any other way now...

deffsight1 karma

What are the locals like in Afghanistan? I've heard that many of the people who live there are completely oblivious to the war itself, that people are so segregated from each other, in terms of going from town to town, that it's difficult for valid information to get around. I'm just curious as to how the people of Afghanistan are reacting to the war, and their true feeling toward the American presence there.

duranben4 karma

they are very well aware of the war. I've been told often that many of the rural population are unaware of 9/11 and I can believe it

octie811 karma

Like Martin Bell, will you end up as an MP ?

duranben3 karma

shit no. I would't last week