Behind the helmet cam

| January 27, 2013

You probably saw the video in the report above, a couple of million people did watch it over the summer months. Greg Jaffe from the Washington Post talks to the guy on whose helmet was mounted the camera, Ted Daniels, the 37-year-old PFC.

The power of Daniels’s video lies in its ability to deliver the viewer directly to the battlefield. Viewers can hear Daniels panting, his boots crunching on rocky ground and the snap of enemy bullets as they pass by his head. The perspective is familiar — it is the same as Call of Duty and other combat video games.

What the video doesn’t show is Daniels. The footage lacks context. It is an empty vessel that viewers fill with their own opinions about America’s wars, its troops, killing and combat.

I know what I think about the video and Daniels, but I’d rather read your comments after you read the article.

Category: Terror War

Comments (22)

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  1. WOTN says:

    I have video and pics from Iraq & Afghanistan as well. There are reasons I’ve never uploaded them (short of a few sterilized versions), but instead utilize those taken by DoD, and owned by the Citizenry of the Nation.

    I believe PFC Daniels likely regrets uploading that video, and that Funker should have conformed to Daniel’s wishes. At least a portion of the funds gained by Funker should be paid to Daniels.

    The DoD should not attempt to restrict the rights of Troops to their own pictures, but Troops should be vigilant about OPSEC and personally and professionally embarrasing use of those pics in public places. And if OPSEC briefings fail to get through to Troops on what not to post, there are legal means to enforce the corrections under UCMJ. Seldom is it the Troops that are committing such violations though. More often the violations are from the MSM or DoD itself, as demonstrated by an early study by DoD on “MilBlogs.”

    The unfortunate facts in this case are that the MSM and a youtuber from Canada are profiteering off this video, and *that* is a primary motivation for individuals to maintain control of their own pictures and videos. Fame will motivate many, but they should not give up their rights to the proceeds in the process.

  2. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    The pictures are one thing. What he did with them was quite another. For the latter, I think he was a horse’s ass. With respect to his claim that he rose and moved to draw fire, I will remain silent. I will say this, though. If I were styarting my own army, he would not be invited to join it.

  3. Ex-PH2 says:

    This sentence bothers me: “The footage lacks context.”

    This is an eye-witness event. It is from the target/shooter perspective, nothing more. It’s more than a little difficult to include context in something like this.

    Context, had there been a chance to provide it, is in the hands of combat cameramen. The Iwo Jima combat films and the Navy’s “Victory At Sea” are good examples of this. Without adding the context of ground-level images, the gun-camera images of Allied strafing of Nazi cargo trains in Europe was just aerial photography from the gun camera.

    Unless there was a combat photographer with Daniels (and I assume there was not), the ‘lacks context’ statement is with merit. The reporter is looking for a story, not reality.

    It’s like the guys on ‘Bomb Patrol Afghnistan’ said to the cameraman “This ain’t Hollywood. It’s Afghanistan.”

  4. Ex-PH2 says:

    Crap!!! That is supposed to be “WITHOUT merit.” Mea culpa.

  5. DetCord says:

    I have a ContourHD and took it with me on my deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. I captured several firefights, RPG attacks, and IED strikes, so they defiantly have merit not only for the individuals personal use, but as a AAR component that can be used to develop unit TTP’s.

    That aside, Funker530 is a fuckin’ douche-canoe of the extreme sort. You know, it’s one thing to re-upload a video from another source, it is entirely different to profiteer from said video.

    I’d like to know how he gets away with it to be honest. Those videos are not his IP, he simply pulls them from the web.

  6. RandomNCO says:

    I just shook my head at this video the first time I saw it. So many things wrong in what he did tactically, and likely just made the situation worse.

    I’ve seen PLENTY of helmet cam footage (not to mentioned lived the shit) in which Infantrymen react as they are trained to act while under fire. The guy in this video does not meet those standards and I wouldn’t want him in my team.

  7. Blue says:

    2/17 Air Cav Says:
    I will say this, though. If I were styarting my own army, he would not be invited to join it.

    Why not? The man volunteered, did what most would not do and put his life on the line. No shame in that.

  8. RandomNCO says:

    @7 There is shame in his ability to react to contact, in his ability to follow basic battle drills, and his ability to not put himself in a bad situation that likely just made things worse.

  9. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    @7. I am not going to tear into the guy. There is no rhyme or reason to do that. In my personal opinion, from what relatively little I have learned about this man, I do not respect his judgment. So, no, he doesn’t get an invite to join my own army.

  10. Twist says:

    From what I read on the “US Army WTF” facebook page, the people claiming to have been part of his unit and where there are not very happy with his actions that day.

  11. Jabatam says:

    Right or wrong, tactically sound or stupid, it’s easy to be the Monday morning armchair QB. This video should be a training tool with a proper AAR conducted on it. What’d he do right? What’d he do wrong? What changes can he make to do it better in the future?

  12. FatCircles0311 says:

    Troops shouldn’t be recording operations unless it’s authorized by the DoD. I’ve seen plenty of embarrassing troop recorded footage regarding operations or just the shenanigans that goes on in the military. The results are never positive(especially those stupid singing and dancing videos that are the rage with the we’ll tell don’t need to ask generation) and it just annoys the troops that do the right things.

  13. Lucky says:

    We recorded our convoys purely for the AAR value. The shit bad or good, shoul never be for family viewing

  14. Blue says:

    @ 8 and 9 … I am not commenting on his actions, hopefully his team leader and squad leader got into his ass and squared him away. What I am saying is that the man was there and doing his part. Who among us has not done some dumb shit as a PVT. Let he who is without a screw up cast the frag : )

  15. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    @14. There is more to this than the momentary bad decision making of a private. I am not going there but neither will I agree that his rank suggest some juvenile behavioral when, in fact, he is a a 37-year-old man.

  16. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    @14. CORRECTED. There is more to this than the momentary bad decision making of a private. I am not going there but neither will I agree that his rank suggests some juvenile behavioral excuse when, in fact, he is a a 37-year-old man.

  17. WOTN says:

    I’ll agree that the video would be valuable as a training aid, in a classroom, I’m not going to do an AAR on his performance in an open forum.

    Somewhere I read he was an Intel Soldier, not an Infantryman. Regardless of age, he was a PFC, not an Infantry Team Leader. That should certainly be taken into account, when “judging” him. I.e., if he failed to act according established tactics, the fault DOES lie with his NCO’s, who failed to train him for such a situation.

    And assuming he is a non-Infantry PFC, that failure in training would be indicative of an Army wide failure to train non-Combat Troops in those basic “non-essential, non-MOS” combat skills. Another well known case of this began with an E7 that couldn’t read a map, and put his Support/Transportation PLT in an enemy city in Iraq, with Troops that had not properly maintained their weapons. But we all know how Jessica Lynch ended up unconscious and in need of rescue, don’t we?

  18. Quincy P says:

    soldiers should not have cameras in firefights (imo). reason; i saw a video of a 240 gunner laying down fire, without his helmet. in the video he kept looking over to the helmet and making adjustments, because his camera was mounted on it. the camera was distracting him and he was fighting from a stationary position in just a t shirt iirc.

  19. Hondo says:

    Could indeed be an indication of a systemic training failure, WOTN. Alternatively, it could also be yet another sighting of the famous but elusive Joseph Excrement, Trader in Scrap Cloth. Last I heard that fella simply wasn’t trainable.

    Or maybe the guy did know better but just decided to ignore his training that day.

    I don’t know the individual, I don’t really have the background to judge, and I wasn’t there – so I can’t assess which is the case. But I do have admit that the combination of his age and rank makes me wonder more about the latter two possibilities than had he been, say, 20.

  20. Common Sense says:

    @19 – The article said he had been a cop for 15 years before joining the Army, which explains the rank and age.

  21. RandomNCO says:

    @18, I’ve actually recently seen that clip as well. Pretty ridiculous, if you ask me. I understand the desire to have video for AARs, but when those cameras are interfering DURING the engagement, then they are doing more harm than good.

    And, they don’t stop the military from covering up things, as we’ve all seen with the case of the friendly fire incident that killed two PFCs out of Carson back in 2006. Everything on the tape, including the reaction from the people there, pointed towards it being a tank that shot them and yet the Army quickly concluded that it was a mortar round. (Yeah, no mortar round I’ve ever heard sounds like an Abrams cannon, but whatever)

  22. USMC0311CPL says:

    His actions under fire are completely disgusting…now if I could please direct all of you to the following a private security company started by pfc.daniels read the about..”tracked taliban commanders”? do we put this guy on blast?