Brentwood resident and TV executive Ned Nalle recently worked on a project for the National Geographic Channel called â€œBattleground Afghanistan.â€
Camera crews follow a Marine battalion on the front lines of battle in real time, revealing both the brutalities of war â€“ and the human spirit that pushes these marines to fulfill their mission.
As tens of thousands of troops withdraw from Afghanistan, Capt. Ben Middendorf and his men of Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines â€” based at Camp Pendleton in San Diego â€” are staying behind to continue the fight.
Their mission is to keep hammering away at the Taliban, keeping them on the defensive as the U.S. winds down its involvement in the conflict.
They are also charged with the responsibility of destroying the Taliban’s key funding sources: opium and heroin.
Said Nalle: â€œViewers will probably be surprised to see that this particular enemy is largely unseen, yet cunning, mortally calculating, and not without its own side of the story. It’s like combating an invisible army. With improvised explosive devices at every turn, every young Marine’s life is risked with every step forward.â€
Nalle continued: â€œYet it’s the danger that seems to fuel these brave men. The adrenaline rush that surges, once bullets fly by an infantry man’s ears, energizes him to accomplish improbable feats in the name of his flag.â€
Nalle said the ground-breaking series could not have been made without the help, support and counsel of the US Marine Corps Motion Picture & Television Liaison Office in Westwood.
Nalle said Lt. Col Curtis Hill, Ret. Lt.Colonel Jason Johnston, Deputy Director Captain Cassandra Gesecki, Public Affairs Chief Gunnery Sgt. Sergio Jimenez, and the â€œperpetually helpfulâ€ Sgt. Eric Schwartz were instrumental in getting the show made.
â€œThey placed us with the celebrated Golf Company Marines Unit, embedded our film crew, and provided as safe an environment as could have been wished for in the middle of the hazards of war.â€
The unit’s slogan is â€œRetreat, Hell!â€ based on a WWI officer refusing to retreat as ordered (the unit went on to win the battle).
Nalle said his European-based executive producer colleagues Michael Knobloch and Jeff Ulin introduced him to the filmmaker Markus Davies, who then told Nalle the story Davies wanted to see told. Nalle was very intrigued.
â€œI volunteered to put the series in front of a US network. National Geographic Channel seemed to be the perfect home. They commissioned the show, and Markus Davies’ remarkable team filmed and edited it.â€
In addition to Battleground Afghanistan, Nalle consults with NBCUniversal on its nationally syndicated daytime television series Trisha (M-F, 1 PM on KCOP-13; 9AM KDOC-LA56 â€“ now gearing up for production for its second season). He also consults with the ION network creatively on five new holiday-themed TV movies that will play in November and December.
He recently helped The American Film Institute place its 41st Annual AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Mel Brooks (TNT, June 15) on networks around the globe.
Nalle lives in Brentwood Park with his wife, Karen, and serves on the board of the Brentwood Park Property Owners.
â€œWe send all three of our kids to school in the neighborhood. There’s a lot to love about the neighborhood.â€
Battleground Afghanistan premieres Monday, July 1, at 9 p.m. on the National Geographic Channel.