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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Combat Ready
Combat Ready
Discovery Channel // Unrated // June 5, 2007
List Price: $14.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jeffrey Robinson | posted October 20, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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The Documentary

Combat Ready is a two-part documentary from the Discovery Military Channel. The documentary is divided into "War Games" and "Insurgency", both are television-hour long episodes. They are about the readiness and training the United States Armed Forces imposes upon their officers and troops to prepare for combat. The first provides a general overview to different war game activities while the second focuses on a preparation course for soldiers/marines being deployed in the Middle East.

War Games

"War Games" focuses on training and simulation activities that the United States Government conducts on its Armed Forces. These events are referred to as "war games". The concept is that in order to be successful in combat, one must be prepared and know what to expect in battle.

The various activities employed by the Armed Forces include training exercises, computer simulations, leadership courses, etc. This documentary looks at a wide variety of activities from the Marines at Twentynine Palms, Navy Seal BUDS, air support simulation at Nellis Air Force Base, war gaming institute at Air University in Maxwell Air Force Base, and more. In short, "War Games" provides a quick and dirty overview to various activities in place to prepare the military for real combat, as well as a quick history of war gaming.

In regards to the quality of "War Games", the documentary has an issue with (lack of) interest. The reoccurring message is that war gaming is important because it prepares our troops for the real thing. The concept is pretty obvious and I think the documentary would have been better focusing more on the actual activities. While there was a good focus and breadth in different training exercises/events, the repeated dialogue about the importance of war gaming was a waste of time and I felt kept moving the documentary's focus off track.

Insurgency

"Insurgency" is the second Combat Ready documentary and it focuses on war game tactics developed from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The wars in the Middle East have presented need for a different tactics than those used in conventional land warfare. When in combat, it is not always clear who is the enemy. Insurgents can be anyone and anywhere. New war games tactics have been adapted for the Armed Forces to deal with counter-insurgent warfare, security & sustainability operations, etc.

The documentary proceeds with different training exercises that the Armed Forces experience to prepare for deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan. This includes training exercises replicating Iraq villages with civilian role-playing to give a real world feeling--from local politics to police to volunteer services to insurgents. The troops are put through events that have occurred in a real combat theater.

In general, "Insurgency" provides a pretty comprehensive overview and decent detail with interviews from soldiers and marines engaged in the exercises, as well as following them on some of the exercises. Of the two Combat Ready documentaries, "Insurgency" proves to be the more interesting one.

The DVD

Video:
The video is given in 1.33:1 ratio full frame color. The picture quality is decent; the image has a distinct grain and other noticeable visual defects. It is common to other television productions of this caliber.

Audio:
The audio is given in English 2.0 Dolby digital stereo sound. The audio track is very simple and plain sounding. Dialogue is easily heard throughout the episodes. There is no support for subtitles or closed captioning.

Extras:
There are no extras included with this release.

Final Thoughts:
Combat Ready is a two-part documentary about war gaming and simulation. It focuses on different aspects of training and simulation that the United States Armed Forces does to prepare its officers and troopers for real combat. The first documentary "War Games" provides a general overview of different training exercises, from intense physical training exercises to the war gaming institute. The second documentary "Insurgency" focuses on soldier/marine preparation for combat in the Middle East, teaching counter-insurgent tactics.

Both documentaries are interesting enough, although the former tends to focus too much on driving the point that training is important (stating the obvious). Regardless, Combat Ready will make for an intriguing watch if you are interested in seeing some of the training exercises that the United States is conducting to prepare for modern combat operations.

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