Chernobyl is a five-episode miniseries from HBO and Sky that dramatizes the story of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. The incompetence of Soviet leadership threatened the future of all of Europe. Although the Soviet Union was defeated, the remnants of that ideology are still strong in modern Russia. Chernobyl is an excellent case study about how far the Soviets are willing to go; sacrificing their own people in order to save face. However, the most impressive is the resolve of our enemy's civilian population to do their duty.
This show is a compelling introduction to Chernobyl and is essential to reigniting interest at studying our enemy. The scariest thing about the show is not that they exaggerated events, it's that most of them actually happened. Before we take a closer look at why every veteran should watch Chernobyl, I will not reveal anything about the plot. However, to be on the safe side: be advised, a spoiler alert is in effect.
Chernobyl is absolutely entertaining
Chernobyl has a 96% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes at the time this article was written. Even the NY Times raves about the merits of the show and the accuracy in which they portray the events and government corruption. The main characters are dramatized because of Hollywood and are necessary to keep the narrative going, but a good show is a good show.
It's scary AF
Doses of 200 to 1,000 rads (a unit of absorbed radiation dose) will show serious signs of illness and will be lethal towards the end of the spectrum. While fighting the fires of the initial explosion, firefighters were exposed to the full force of radiation seeping out of reactor crater. It is unknown how much radiation was oozing out that night as all measuring devices maxed out upon being turned on. They were so irradiated that their clothes from that evening still produce hazardous levels of radiation 30 years later. All of the first 29 firefighters on the scene died shortly after from radiation poisoning.
In America, a respectable size of law enforcement and other first responders are prior military. Imagine being on call and thrown into a scenario such as this and no one has any idea how dangerous the situation is until it's too late. It happened to the first responders at Chernobyl, and it happened to American first responders on 9/11.
Worker families were affected too
The civilian population of Pripyat was not given any warning that radiation levels were dangerously high until 36 hours after the incident. People continued to live their lives as radiation invisibly snowed around them. The evacuation of Pripyat's 43,000 residents took 3.5 hours, using 1,100 buses from Kiev. The residents of Pripyat were told they would be evacuated temporarily for only three days.
How prepared are our families living off base? They're so near to what we actually do that it's easy to forget how close they are to our on-going activities. Most of us won't be in a situation where nuclear fallout will be the consequences of an accident, but them being in our lives adds an invisible risk. There is always the potential for an evacuation for reasons the government may not want us to know. We'll have to uproot them at a moments notice if a situation ever gets bad enough and it is possible albeit not probable.
Note: Turn on Closed Caption (CC) for English subtitles to the Pripyat evacuation audio.
Record everything, don't be a scapegoat
The show got the helicopter crash right, even though it happened months after the initial reactor incident, the crash itself was shown exactly as it happened. When watching the series you will be able to see that the blades hit the crane cable like the file footage below. Civilian reviewers such as Watch Mojo claim that the show didn't depict the helicopter crash as it happened -- I call bullsh*t on Watch Mojo and here is the evidence. Fake News.
As veterans, you should keep a journal or at least some form of keeping a record of your personal experiences -- a photo, a clip, or even a voice memo. Years later the truth will be distorted, and even your own eye witness testimony could be called into question by some pencil-neck Melvin who never served. "I was there" doesn't get you as far as you think it does.
Also, it is not so wild of an idea to think that the leadership wouldn't think twice about covering up their mistakes and making you a scapegoat to save their asses.
Do not underestimate the enemy
The military was called to clean up the mess, and many lost their lives. Even with the equipment they were given, it was not enough. Many died during those months, others years later from radiation poisoning and cancer. The Russians are our enemy, yes, but the way they selflessly threw their lives away in the name of duty -- that cannot be underestimated. This is an enemy that is the polar opposite of our ideology, yet their service members are as patriotic to their cause as we are to ours. The Russians and those of the former Soviet Union, are and always have been worthy adversaries.
Train, train hard, because the Russians are doing exactly that.
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