March 10, 2003 12:00 PM

ABC (Thursdays, 8 p.m. ET)

ABC says this six-week reality series (scheduled through April 3) had full Pentagon cooperation, and it’s obvious why the brass viewed it with favor. Profiles from the Front Line takes a wholly admiring view of U.S. military men and women assigned to the war on terrorism in and around Afghanistan. It’s pure propaganda, but it’s largely effective.

Though the music is sometimes more dramatic than the visuals, most of Profiles avoids the flash and dash that cheapened last season’s CBS military-reality effort, AFP: American Fighter Pilot. We meet several interesting and engaging characters, most notably a Special Forces master sergeant who skillfully plays the diplomat with Afghans whose honesty and allegiance are in doubt. Occasionally the good guys lay it on too thick, as when a likable corporal boasts that the sight of Afghan boys learning baseball must be “a huge, huge slap in the face for the al Qaeda.” But then, journalistic detachment isn’t the aim here.

BOTTOM LINE: Decent flag-waver

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