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The Long Road Home filmed Texas as Baghdad

The Long Road HomeNew military drama The Long Road Home recreated a suburb of Iraqi capital Baghdad on an army base in Texas.  

National Geographic Channel’s eight-part drama tells the true story of a division of American soldiers that was ambushed by Iraqi forces in a suburb of Baghdad in April 2004, a year after the launch of the US-led Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The 1st Cavalry Division was – and still is – based in Fort Hood, central Texas, and the drama was filmed on location at the base.

Indeed, the Baghdad suburb where the ambush took place – Sadr City – was partially recreated on the base, according to regional media outlet My San Antonio.

“Over 100 buildings were constructed to re-create Sadr City,” said Mikko Alanne, the drama’s showrunner, in comments to the outlet.

“Great care was taken to replicate every detail, using photographs and video taken by soldiers to re-create the architecture exactly.”

The producers were assisted by two veterans of the 2004 battle who were involved with the shoot as technical advisers, and the production team also consulted regularly with other soldiers who survived the fighting.

See KFTV's production guide for more on filming in Texas and for local contacts

Getting the support of the military was a key factor in enabling The Long Road Home to film in Texas. The state is generally a challenging location for bigger-budgeted films and TV shows because of its limited filming incentive support. 

Neighbouring Louisiana and New Mexico are frequently used as stand-ins for Texas, while rural New Mexico often doubles for Iraq and Afghanistan in modern war stories. 

California also offers standing sets of Middle Eastern and Third World locations, while its deserts are used as doubles for international settings in shows like SEAL Team

National Geographic is a relatively new producer of scripted content. The channel is also working on a second series of Genius, which stars Antonio Banderas as Pablo Picasso.

Image: National Geographic/Van Redin