Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Courage to Return to Where You Came Closest to Death but Also Felt the Most Alive

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Courage to Return to Where You Came Closest to Death but Also Felt the Most Alive

Article excerpt

Byline: David Sexton The Viewer

The Final Mission: Foxy's War Channel 4, 9pm FORMER special forces soldiers have developed into a new kind of TV star over the past few years. Top dogs are Ant Middleton and Jason Fox, Royal Marines who joined the Special Boat Service and served in Afghanistan.

Both published remarkable memoirs last year, First Man In and Battle Scars, recounting not only their experiences in the military but the burnout that followed, and their struggles with PTSD and adjusting to civilian life, before they righted themselves via epic open-boat voyages and turned into celebrities.

Of the two books, it was Fox's that was the more tangled and confessional, including contributions from his therapist and a fellow PTSD sufferer with whom he's founded the Rock2Recovery clinics, which offer a programme of help to those similarly affected.

Now, in this levelly-presented documentary, "Foxy" returns to Afghanistan for the first time since he was medically discharged in 2012, to try "to understand what happened there and why it affected me so deeply" and to assess whether anything worthwhile was achieved by the Western intervention that cost the lives of 456 British soldiers, with many more injured.

"I hope for the sake of the British soldiers that didn't make it back that we all did some good out there," he says a bit vaguely. He tries to see Afghanistan as "a place that has got an opportunity to progress and become stable" but admits "it isn't there yet". Although the major cities remain under government, rather than Taliban, control, some 45,000 Afghan government soldiers have been killed in the past four years.

In unnerving circumstances, Fox meets a smug former Taliban commander, hoping he will at least say he respected the British soldiers, as they did their enemy. …

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