Following the success of last year’s hit series, Inside Combat Rescue, the National Geographic Channel returns to the front lines of Afghanistan in Inside Combat Rescue: The Last Stand. This dramatic two-hour special, premiering this Sunday, June 15 at 9P offers a unique, firsthand perspective of the final stages of Operation Enduring Freedom through the eyes of the men and women on the ground and in the air, fighting to protect us.
With remarkable access to the U.S. Air Force and the personnel stationed at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, The Last Stand embeds with the “Reapers,” an elite Air Force unit tasked with capturing or killing the highest-level Taliban targets who threaten the lives of the 36,000 people who call Bagram home. Then, we take to the skies once again with the pararescuemen (or PJs) of the 83rd Rescue Squadron. This time around, we’ll follow a new group of PJs as they fly into hostile territory to rescue wounded comrades, coalition forces and Afghan citizens. From the uncertainty of surrounding a compound of a suspected weapons dealer with possible ties to the Taliban, to the nail-biting minutes as a convoy unknowingly approaches an IED, to the heartfelt confessions of an airman’s concerns about returning home after a long, six-month deployment — the tension, suspense and raw emotion of each moment in Inside Combat Rescue: The Last Stand is all too real.
Participating in active missions, our cameras travel into hostile territory with the men and women of Reaper Team 5 on a manhunt for a notorious Taliban commander named Subhanullah. The wanted insurgent has orchestrated several attacks on Americans in Afghanistan, including potential involvement in a rocket attack that killed four soldiers waiting at a bus stop on base. The tragic event unfolded while NGC crews were staying and filming at the airfield.
On one particularly high-stakes mission, we join the Reapers as they escort a high-ranking colonel into a Taliban-controlled village believed to be harboring Subhanullah. With cameras and a translator inside the closed-door meeting, see the negotiation unfold firsthand as the American forces persuade village leaders to stop protecting the wanted war criminal. While the mood inside the meeting remains peaceful, tensions mount outside as crowds of villagers arrive, some of whom are throwing rocks.
During the tumultuous month of July, when Independence Day attacks are known to spike, the PJs spring into action, flying into the heat of battle to save the critically wounded following a massive attack at a compound in the city of Kabul that killed seven people. Our cameras capture every step of the PJs’ mission: from the moment real-time intel of a fourth of July bombing streams into the operations center and the PJs “scramble” to launch within minutes of the call; as they land in areas with heavy insurgent activity; while they rush to prevent a victim from going into shock during air transport and then download the surgical staff at the nearest hospital; to the debrief back at base. They’re part warrior, part guardian angel, part medic and ALL hero.
During NGC’s six-week “deployment” at Bagram Airfield, our film crew captured heroic acts of bravery in the field and comradery back at base. Home videos from the airmen and heartfelt Skype sessions with their family members provide insight into the more personal side of war, while helmet cams and more than 25 strategically placed cameras mounted inside and outside of the Air Force’s HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, and the 60,000-pound MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protection) vehicles, take viewers right into the action.
Inside Combat Rescue: The Last Stand presents an intimate, 360-degree view of life on the front lines, as never seen before. Don’t miss it this Sunday at 9P.