By Yvonne JohnsonJuly 17, 2014
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (July 17, 2014) -- A documentary film containing 100-percent real and raw battlefield footage shot in what's considered the most violent part of Afghanistan, features a Soldier now serving here.
At the time, then-Lt. Col. Stephen J. Lutsky was serving in 2010, as a squadron commander with the 33rd Cavalry, 3rd Brigade "Rakkasans," of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
"The Hornet's Nest" is a product of a two journalists -- Mike and Carlos Boettcher, a father and son team who were embedded with the unit for nearly two years, filming Soldiers' actions and daily lives, as well as those of the Soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 101st, and Marines with 2nd Battalion of the 8th Marines.
Recalling his take on what he experienced with the duo in 2010, Lutsky said the Peabody- and Emmy Award-winning journalists were fully trained with their own gear and remained on the ground, sharing their time among the combined units, for about 15 months.
On his first deployment to Afghanistan after three previous ones to Iraq, Lutsky said the pair was knowledgeable, professional and likeable -- always focused on the task-at-hand, which included fierce, bloody and deadly confrontations with the Taliban.
"We basically showed them what the squadron was doing, and they turned out what they thought was worth a story," Lutsky said. "They had no agenda; the movie is not political and they merely focused on telling a story they already knew."
"This movie reflects Soldiers in combat," he added. There are Soldiers in the film who are not alive at the end of the movie. The film is not a re-enactment, nor does it include actors.
Lutsky was able to attend the film's screenings in New York and in Washington, D.C.
"It's pretty hard to see yourself on the big screen," he said. "But what you see is honest. There are no bodies and no blood. They intentionally cut all that out to focus on Soldiers and what they do; what they go through.
"There are no retakes and you can hear the bullets zipping past, but the main thing you see is Soldiers doing their duty, and putting themselves at risk for their brothers," he added.
He said the experience made him realize that most Soldiers, like himself, seldom articulate what they go through and that providing a variety of views from each Soldier's perspective serves an important need.
"I don't believe in sharing that with my family; it serves no purpose," he said. "It doesn't accomplish anything except to make them miserable. There is no value in sharing with them but at the same time, talking is therapeutic."
He said when his wife viewed the movie, she saw things happen to him she didn't know about.
For example, she knew he was injured in an attack, but she didn't realize her husband was in the same room with a suicide bomber wearing a vest when he lit-off the explosives. Lutsky keeps the ball bearings that were removed from his legs, arms and neck in his office at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
"She has a better understanding now, and she also understands how it is I've changed," he said.
He added that he's talked to Soldiers who used the film as a method to talk things through. Couples have said it saved their marriage, he said, noting that the film is being shown to basic trainees and ROTC cadets. "It's very good for that purpose," he noted.
"I believe every American should see "The Hornet's Nest," Lutsky said. "Sometimes, I wonder if they know what, 'thank you for your service' really means."
Promoted to colonel in 2013, Lutsky now serves as the director of the Mounted Systems Evaluation Directorate, Army Evaluation Center, U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command.
"The Hornet's Nest" was released nationwide in May.