Friday, September 15, 2006
A little 'MacGyver' goes a long way
Editor's note: Students from U.C. Berkeley's graduate school of journalism present their films on military life on "360" tonight at 11 p.m.

Shooting the Djibouti piece was a case-study in Murphy's Law -- anything that can go wrong will -- and do-or-die improvisation, like using electrical tape to keep the dust out of our camera or developing characters that we had never planned to meet.

Roadblocks went up each way we turned: A de-mining operation in Kenya was put on hold; a training mission in Ethiopia was canceled; Yemen proved to have hardly any story at all. That left us stuck in Djibouti. Totally boring, right?

Actually, it was a blessing in disguise. Being stuck at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti meant that co-producer Najlae Benmbarek and I had ample time to meet and strongly connect with troops who would eventually become central characters in our piece, most notably Lt. Steve McKnight.

The short story is that Murphy's Law can create the conditions in which you're left to rely on chance encounters and/or your own improvisational prowess, which, if you're into "The Real World" and "MacGyver," respectively, means a bad situation can lead to a rather satisfying outcome.

(Watch Aaron and Najlae's film on life on a U.S. military base in Africa -- 6:11)
Posted By Aaron Selverston, Berkeley Student: 5:48 PM ET
Anybody who knows about MacGyver and can emulate him has my admiration. I look forward to the show tonight and your films. Dont' know if it's my computer or me that's incompetent, but I couldn't watch the films online. However, I will definitely watch them tonight.

Thanks Anderson for bringing them to us.
Posted By Anonymous Christina, Windber, PA : 6:54 PM ET
Hey Aaron-
Your article is very interesting. Your spontaneity in reporting reveals your talents. It sounds like you got to experience "The Real World" first hand.
It is so cool that 360 and CNN are giving you this opportunity. You all know where to turn in your resumes! Good luck and congrats!
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann, Nacogdoches TX : 7:07 PM ET
Glad you're getting the chance to see the great individuals who volunteered to make this the best military in the world. Not because of equipment, generals or politics, but the personal dedication of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. Hooah!
Posted By Anonymous LTC M, Valrico, FL : 7:46 PM ET
Congrats on getting your stories aired on ac360! I went to the Berkeley j-school ('03) and can appreciate what a HUGE accomplishment this is. I loved all the films - incredibly fresh and professional. CNN's decision to air them definitely boosted my opinion of the network. I think Anderson is great, but honestly, I was getting sick of 360 until I saw these films. Good decision to air them! Please do more things like this on the show!
Posted By Anonymous Christine, NYC, NY : 1:08 AM ET
The film clips of the soldiers' lives in a U.S. military base in Africa are outstanding. It was great to see troops from a different perspective. I'm glad you took time to connect with the troops personally, I bet they really enjoyed the company. Thanks to all the U.S. troops across Africa. Keep up the hard work and stay safe.
Posted By Anonymous Kelsey O'Winfrey Chicago, Il : 1:13 AM ET
I found it sad, SO SAD, that out our "High School" graduates are offfered up as IAD fodder. Talk about feeding the lambs to the wolves. Send me instead, at least I've lived a life already. Maybe I could save one or two of those poor lambs.

Posted By Anonymous Jimmy J, Mound MN : 2:06 AM ET
Hi, Aaron. Thanks for sharing your story; it was good to see another perspective and "meet" the soldiers.

I appreciate your hard work.
Posted By Anonymous Courtney, St. Charles, MO : 11:52 AM ET
Aaron: Give you credit for enduring all of the detours that Murphy´┐Żs Law dished out for you. In the end, I was impressed with the determination these troops have to "do the right thing" for the people in Djibouti and hopefully gain their trust. It will be interesting to see as time goes by if, indeed, improving the infrastructure and schools will put an end to or at least a dent into this ugly war on terror!
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 4:09 PM ET
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