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ABC-TV Spotlights the People of U.S. Armed Forces

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2003 – The men and women who make up America's military will be featured on an ABC-TV production entitled "Profiles from the Front Line" beginning Feb. 27.

The series will run at 8 p.m. EST Thursdays through April 6.

The Defense Department gave the producers of the show access to operations in Afghanistan and around the world. The show is part of ABC's entertainment division. ABC News did not participate.

"Profiles" is cast as a "reality" show, but it's not a "Survivor: Afghanistan." There are no contrived situations, contests or actors.

"These are real people, doing real missions in a real war," said Vicente Ogilvie, deputy special assistant for entertainment media in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.

The show also places a spotlight on America's "shadow warriors" -- special operations forces.

Defense officials said they cannot remember the last time any group was given such access to the world of special operations. Special operations forces are called "shadow warriors" for a reason: They try not to garner attention. They feel working in the shadows helps them accomplish their missions.

While the coalition bombing of Afghanistan helped the Northern Alliance at the beginning of the conflict in the country in October 2001, only when special operations forces arrived on the ground did the tide turn against the Taliban.

"The fight to topple the Taliban was waged on the ground by less than 500 Special Forces personnel," Marshall Billingslea, principal deputy assistant defense secretary for special operations and low-intensity conflict, said Oct. 16, 2002. "They mounted an unconventional warfare effort tied closely to indigenous forces and linked with the United States Air Force in a way that provided for a rapid and crushing defeat of the Taliban's conventional forces."

Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who did the movies "Black Hawk Down" and "Pearl Harbor," and the television show "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," is the executive producer of the profile series. His group sent teams of producers and cameramen to the front lines of the war on terrorism.

The series started filming in April 2002 and wrapped in October. At one point 16, three-man crews were working around the world. In addition to covering members of the 3rd and 19th Special Forces groups in Afghanistan, the teams also videotaped members of the 82nd Airborne Division as they deployed to Central Asia.

They also caught sailors of the cruiser USS Hue City during maritime intercept operations in the Arabian Sea, submariners of the USS Salt Lake City, carrier operations aboard the USS John F. Kennedy, medics at various hospitals, and food service specialists.

Ogilvie said service members tell their own stories. While the producers put some images to music, no scripts or narrations were used in the series.

"This program highlights the dedication, professionalism and patriotism of the men and women of the armed forces," he said.

Some critics have hammered the show because it highlights patriotism, Ogilvie noted, but they're out of line in his opinion. "There is nothing fake about the patriotism of the American military," he said. "The program shows patriotism because these men and women are patriots."

The Defense Department provided transportation to the film crews and technical advice to the producers. Defense officials worked with the crews to protect operational security.

While some parts of the show may make senior leaders wince, they're slices of the real military, department officials said.

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