Desert Patrol - A Soldier on a Mission of Peace | DocFilm | DW | 17.03.2019
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Desert Patrol - A Soldier on a Mission of Peace

Light wheeled tanks roll over the sands of Mali on a patrol led by a young Bundeswehr officer. The documentary accompanies the man for a year as he’s deployed on the UN mission - from its start at training camps in Germany until he returns home.

Watch video 42:36

When the film begins in June of 2017, Matthias was leading a platoon of mountain troops stationed in the German town of Bad Reichenhall. He was trained to command soldiers in combat situations during the Bundeswehr’s international deployments like the one in northern Mali. The Sahel region is witnessing more and more terrorist attacks and kidnappings and the towns of Gao and Kidal are seen as hubs for drugs being smuggled into Europe from South America. "This’ll be my biggest career challenge to date,” says the young soldier. "But the main thing is that my boys come back safe and sound.” Matthias was married shortly before his deployment began, and his wife Clara was pregnant when his transport took off from Cologne Airport on September 21st of 2017. Matthias and his platoon were tasked with protecting their own forces, providing reconnaissance and information after attacks and supporting UN soldiers from other countries. The platoon was a kind of "fire brigade” in the heat of the desert, and its young leader knew he might have to shoot to kill when on patrol. During his four months in the desert, Matthias asked himself what the mission was really about, about his military service and about killing and death. The documentary provides an authentic portrait of a new generation of German soldiers who have chosen to serve their country, and also reveals how the past 20 years have changed the Bundeswehr from a conscript army into an international strike force.