Review of “Full Battle Rattle”

Full Battle Rattle would be better named The Battle of Medina Wasl. Medina Wasil is not a real town, but rather a simulation at Fort Irwin, “The World’s Premier Trainign Center for the World’s Finest Military.” Bush visited the National Training Center during the production of the film, but after the main filming, allowing clips of this event to be included:

The film concerns a two-week training simulation. The four ‘sides’ are townsfolk, a Blue Force, a Red Force, and controllers able to inject events. Some injected events (such as a Sunni-Shia wedding) go quietly, while another escalates to a massive Red Force assault. As the townsfolk repeat their roles, they develop close relationships, and this adds to the realism of the situation. Moments of levity, such as the Deputy Mayor and Deputy Chief of Police angling for a promotion are balanced with truly spooky scenes, such as a scene where Red Force “Anti-Iraqi Forces” (AIF) boredly play soccer in front of American troops. “It’s just fun to kill people and blow stuff up, you know,” an AIF terrorist says to the camera, simultaneously identifying the fun of playing the world’s most expensive game of laser skirmish and a motivation behind the true terrorists in Iraq.

The filmmaker’s clearly know their subject, and much is referenced through either brief camera shots or short comments. The resolution of a real drama — very real deportation hearings against the fake Deputy Chief of Police — is referenced by a single line. Likewise, a lingering shot shows a Blue Force officer reading Roger Trinquier’s Modern Warfare: A French View of Counterinsurgency. The scale of the operation allows the Fog of War to control events, as seen after the situation escalates because of the inability of the Deputy Mayor to contact the commander of Blue Force.

Full Battle Rattle effectively captures two layers of events, the outcome of the fake Battle of Medina Wasil. Both of these levels are real, in a way. Google searches also reveal that soldier art (such as condemned by Matt Armstrong) on the National Training Center.

Similarly, a closing scene of the film shows the actors watching a laptop film of a (fake) beheading in Medina Wasl, immediately after viewing photos of (real) visits by the President to the town.

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Full Battle Rattle is the best film produced so far of the War in Iraq, and it’s set in the American West.

Strongly recommended.