By Jermaine Rowley
For The Diamondback

More than 40 University of Maryland students gathered Thursday for a documentary screening to learn more about the challenges of the war on terror.

This university's Army ROTC presented National Geographic's docuseries titled Chain of Command, which reveals the military's struggles during this country's war against violent extremism.

The series' first episode, "By, With & Through," is told through the perspective of various military personnel, featuring drone and other footage from the war's front lines over the course of a year. This premiere primarily featured action between American forces and the Islamic State group during the battle for Mosul, Iraq. The Islamic State group was officially expelled from Mosul in July.

"Seeing that documentary, seeing what the officers do, it's not just about the leading soldiers, it's doing a lot more stuff in the background," said junior Russian language major Shawn Yu, who is also a member of ROTC. "[It's] not just going to battlefield and telling people to do this and to do that."

After the screening, audience members, who were primarily ROTC members, engaged in a group discussion regarding their experiences and thoughts on global terrorism.

During the discussion, the group talked about cultural appropriateness when it comes to joking about topics of war, as some said these kinds of remarks can be offensive to others. The attendees also examined the film, noticing some scenes appeared to be dramatized for a general audience.

Sophomore computer science major and ROTC member Sophie Jessel said she enjoyed the first episode, and was surprised by some of the scenes.

"I am sure they picked certain scenes because they were heartwarming or because they portrayed a good picture of the U.S. forces and our Iraqi counterparts," Jessel said. "But overall it was really interesting to see how the war effort was going over there and kind of what fighting looked like in an urban environment."   

Jessel also said she learned more about the United States' strategy during this war.

"One thing I didn't know was that the U.S. forces are taking much more of a backseat during those war efforts," Jessel said. "So when I thought about the U.S. war effort in Iraq, I figured we'd be on the front lines."

Despite the ongoing war, John Andrews, a military science instructor at this university who facilitated the screening, said he is hopeful America will continue to persist in this seemingly endless conflict.

"I think it's important for people to get a understanding that the war is very much still going on, that the men and women that are being cast to lead this fight against terrorism are drawn to our community, our student community," Andrews said.

Lt. Colonel Larry Rentz, who serves as head of this university's Army ROTC department, said he hoped this event would bring together all of the ROTC departments — army, naval and air force.

"We're hoping to … just have a professional development opportunity for our cadets," Rentz said, "and at the same time provide an opportunity to the university to kind of cooperate on some professional development and things that are current in the army world stage."