Magazine article WLA ; War, Literature and the Arts

Foreverstan: The Drawdown

Magazine article WLA ; War, Literature and the Arts

Foreverstan: The Drawdown

Article excerpt

I was an enlisted Army photographer during the Iraq war. It was my job to follow ground units on missions during some of the heaviest fighting of the war, and make photographs. At first I didn't really know what I was doing with a camera, but I cared deeply about the story and resolved to pursue my reporting further by leaving the Army and becoming a photojournalist proper.

These photographs represent a small part of my ongoing attempt to bridge the gap between average Americans' assumptions about their wars and the reality on the ground. From 2010 to 2014 I photographed small American and Afghan military units, far from commanders and visiting politicians, in order to cover only the reality itself, even if that shields it from some context. I took this approach because I've learned that context can be blinding as well, as a commander can convince you of the war's higher purposes when the reality on the ground confirms such rationales are absurd.

During the drawdown in 2014, it was no longer possible to travel to remote US outposts, as they were being closed down. …

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