ISLAND STYLE – a journey with Pacific island soldiers in Afghanistan

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TroopsVanuatu-based photojournalist Ben Bohane spent a month embedded with Pacific island troops and contractors in Afghanistan in late 2013, during the twilight of the NATO era there. With support from PACMAS, ABC TV, Waka Photo Agency and the Pacific Institute of Public Policy  (PiPP), Bohane has now completed a feature documentary film that will be screened across the Pacific in 2015. It highlights the service of thousands of Pacific island soldiers and contractors who have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.  Dozens have been killed, hundreds wounded. In fact Guam has the highest casualty rate, per capita, of any state or territory in the US – 450% above the national average.

Why do islanders join the military? What do they miss most about home? What unique qualities do Pacific island soldiers bring to a modern military? These are some of the questions posed in the film as we journey from the streets of Kabul to remote bases with food, fish and family on everyone’s mind. Islanders bring their music, so the film has a rich soundtrack merging island songs with Afghan folk and Armed Forces Radio pop. Bohane embedded mostly with Guam Battalion, who had 600 Micronesian troops on the ground. He follows key characters like Sgt Eddie Siguenza, an army photographer who takes him to Kandahar, Helmand and around Kabul. As well as the Micronesians, we meet Papua New Guinean soldiers in the Australian army, Fijians in the British army and Kanaks in the French army. 6 months after the troops have returned home to Guam, the film takes us from the deserts of Afghanistan to tropical Guam and New Caledonia, where we hear how veterans are coping with being back in their home islands again.


 

Source:PACMAS – www.pacmas.org/profile/island-style-a-journey-with-pacific-island-soldiers-in-afghanistan/#sthash.tw3xGZAG.dpuf

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