Nobel– on Netflix. Norwegian Special Forces, oil, Afghanistan, a bitter dose of reality.
Nobel is the best, most recent, portrayal of Special Forces I have seen. Also, it exposes the reality of war where economic and political interests often trump not just operational security but the very lives of the soldiers on the front lines.
Our 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) is the one that focuses on cold weather and high altitude areas of operations because it is oriented toward Europe. Every year we’d send teams to train jointly with the various Special Forces of those countries. My team worked with the Danish Fromandkorpset, their elite counter-terror unit, who were the equivalent of our Seal Team-6. Other teams would go to Germany, Norway and other countries to do joint operations and training.
A new show on Netflix, Nobel, is about a Norwegian Special Forces team. It starts from their time in Afghanistan, then back to Norway, then it jumps back and forth in locale and time. It maintains a coherent story line as it unwraps a conspiracy regarding a deal for oil in Afghanistan (something in the backstory of Bodyguard of Lies, it just occurred to me, my version– more on the other in a bit.)
Eight episodes and I ended up binging it. The title comes from the Nobel Peace Prize, which is deliberate irony.
Much of the tactics and techniques used were, unlike most movies and shows, realistic. More importantly, the larger scenario is even more realistic. Games within games. Except the are deadly games. The first thing we did after getting a mission packet in isolation, after everyone outside of the team had left, was ask: “What if the mission we’re being assigned isn’t the real mission? What if we’re some pawn in a larger game, where the ultimate outcome is well beyond the scope of our mission?” Implicit in those questions was the understanding we could be sacrificed as part of a larger plan.
The first thing my Battalion Commander did when I arrived fresh out of Special Forces training to 10th Group, was give me a copy of Bodyguard of Lies. Not the one I’ve written since, but the original, based on Winston Churchill’s statement: “In wartime, truth is so precious, she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” The book, by Anthony Cave Brown, details covert operations during World War II. The deception, the double and triple crosses, the sacrifices made.
This show, Nobel, touches on all that.
It also shows the home life of a Special Operator. The personal stories of the men, and women, behind those night vision goggles and those who they come home to, often arriving not completely intact. Whether it be physically not intact or mentally. One of the most gripping scenes of the movie is when Erling is in the car with his wife and he finally tells her what he really has done. I found it most intriguing when he tells her how he feels nothing for all those who he has killed, but asks how can he reconcile that with the grief he feels for dead and wounded comrades?
Special Operators are not in the bell curve; we all accept that. However, there are severe prices to be paid for not being “normal”.
Originally published at writeitforward.com on January 7, 2017.