Wednesday, August 3, 2011

TV Gets Multinational Warfare Right?!

I have been watching Combat Hospital this summer.  It is a relatively cheesy version of M*A*S*H set in Kandahar, but not as funny.  Perhaps more China Beach-esque.  It is a Canadian series picked up in the US by ABC, hence the more visible role by the Canadian folks. 

The basic idea is that it is a jointly run/personned medical facility in Kandahar in 2006, mostly run by Canadians but also with a smattering of Americans, Brits, Aussies (mostly there to party, it seems), and others.  So, a natural plot would be to show tensions among the Canadians and the Americans, particularly given the shared Canadian sense that Americans are reckless cowboys.

So, I was most interested, given my research on many of the challenges of multilateral operations, to watch last night's episode and see a key plot focused on a rather subtle difference in rules--that the Americans don't seem to mind their helo pilots using "go pills" (amphetamines) when they are drowsy whereas the Canadians would rather rest a weary pilot (see this scene via Hulu, if you can) I have no idea if this is true, but this kind of difference in standard operating procedure is certainly one of the challenges facing any multinational unit, just as each country operating in the skies over Libya has a different targeting process--essentially different rules of engagement--that must be finessed.

As a result of this episode, I can feel as if I was working this summer while watching a decent but not fantastic TV show. 

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