Netflix’s Triple Frontier and tactical aspects

Eric Sof

Triple Frontier is an action-packed story of a drug heist carried out by ex-SOF operators. But, from the tactical side, does it have any connections to real life?

If you’ve watched it already and wonder whether it has any basis in real life, that’s expected; the team behind it was going for a realistic feel and a ‘true’ portrayal of what it’s like being a military veteran, but it did they succeed? The Triple Frontier is available on Netflix.

Plot

It explores the overly used special forces veteran angle and how they try to go against the code by which they lead their lives. A group of 5 ex-special forces has served every mission with complete allegiance, even getting their hands dipped in violence whenever necessary:(some of them as high as 43 kills). Still, after retiring, the government they served so dearly isn’t even giving them enough to survive. A pretty good and thought-provoking issue, right?

The story follows a group of former special operations forces operatives who meet to plan a heist and takedown of a notorious kingpin in a remote multi-border area. The area is located in South America, crossing Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil. It is known as “la triple frontera.”

Two ex-sof operators armed with assault rifles in the movie Triple Frontier
A scene from a Triple Frontier movie (Photo: Netflix)

The group undertakes the mission for themselves rather than their country, hoping to take home millions of dollars. Of course, things don’t quite go to plan. The movie stars Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, and Pedro Pascal and is directed by J.C. Chandor.

Triple Frontier and special forces tactics

If you look through the eyes of someone who makes pay doing some military staff, you don’t need to be a Green Beret to conclude how realistic this movie is. Even if you do not have a military background but have a good head on your shoulders, if what you are looking for in this movie is realism, you can spot many flaws.

Recon

The way they conducted reconnaissance was bogus. First, it takes days around the clock, sometimes weeks of observation, to gather proper intel to plan an intrusion like this. Second of all, the way they performed the reccee was laughable. They were sticking their pale heads out of the bush right outside the narcos’ fence! No camo face paint, no ghillie or 3D suits, no camouflage net, not even a mesh scarf dragged over their heads to attempt some kind of concealment while being on OP/LP (Observation Post/Listening Post).

Recon Marines wearing the full combat gear during the exercise Talisman Saber in 2007
Recon Marines wearing the full combat gear during the exercise Talisman Saber in 2007 (Photo: USMC)

Planning

For guys who are supposed to depict former CAG/Delta, their planning was of lower quality than the narcos they were getting ready to rob. SF/CAG/Delta or any spec ops personnel are trained to make plans with multiple redundancies. They have an SOP (Standard Operation Procedure) acronym for that in US Special Forces, “PACE” for Primary Alternate Contingency and Emergency. In that order. That’s not one but at least four plans. If the Primary plan fails, you go to the Alternate plan; if not possible or compromised, you go to the Contingency plan, and if that is fried too, you still have an Emergency plan.

Triple C (TCCC)

Ironhead’s injury was a severe problem for an environment like the Selva. In the Amazon, a simple razor cut can get real ugly quickly. I won’t comment on their TCCC (Tactical Combat Casualty Care) procedure when he got shot and how he dressed that wound later at the LZ. That was horrendous. My daughter would do better using an Israeli bandage than they did. Of course, we get the typical Hollywood line, “the bullet went through, you will be fine,” and the wound is later referred to as a “mosquito bite,” but in reality, it doesn’t work that way.

Conclusion

That should be three major points to count on in Triple Frontier, but still, it is not filmed for operators only. For most actual viewers, it should be a regular Hollywood movie packed with a lot of guns and action. The military advisers did a job regarding the tactical point of view, not perfectly but still viewable.

In conclusion, watch this if you want to. If you watch it as serendipity, you might get disappointed. Triple Frontier is rated 6,5/10 on the IMDB.

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