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Iraq body count soars in October

Mission accomplished, over and over. (AP):

Four soldiers from the Army’s Task Force Baghdad soldiers died Monday when their patrol struck a roadside bomb in Youssifiyah, 12 miles south of Baghdad in an area known as the “triangle of death.”

Two other soldiers from the 29th Brigade Combat Team were also killed in a bombing Monday near Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad. The U.S. military also said a Marine was killed Sunday near Amiriyah, 25 miles west of Baghdad.

Those deaths raised the death toll for October to more than 90, the highest monthly total since January when 107 American service members died. The latest deaths brought to 2,025 the number of U.S. service members who have died since the Iraq war began in March 2003.

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Must see cable TV: ‘Off to War’

If you have cable and the Times/Discovery Channel, you need to tune in to the fine documentary series Off to War. It’s ten parts (with the last episode premiering in late November), chronicling the deployment of the 39th Brigade of the Arkansas National Guard to Iraq.

On July 26, 2003, the lives of many families in rural Arkansas began to swing in an unexpected and even frightening direction. That’s when members of the 39th Brigade of the Arkansas National Guard were officially told that they would be heading to Iraq and wouldn’t be coming home until the spring of 2005.

The series is executive produced by the immensely talented Jon Alpert, whose work I enjoyed on the Today Show many years ago. He received critical acclaim for several documentaries produced for HBO, including Lockup: The Prisoners of Rikers Island.

The filmmakers on the ground, Craig and Brent Renaud, brothers born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, do an amazing job of reporting in the classic mode of documentary filmmaking — they allow the voices, personalities and events the subjects experience to shape the politics of the film. We’re not talking F9/11 here, but the effect is just as devastating an indictment of the Iraq war.

You can meet the members of the 39th Brigade of the Arkansas National Guard here, and there’s an episode guide.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding