Changing Conventions in War Photography (2)
as illustrated by a U.S. soldier from the 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry
at a forward operating base in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan.
The number of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan is expected to
peak at 150,000 in coming weeks. July 19th, 2010
(Manpreet Romana/agence France-presse Via Getty Images).
Combat Outpost Nolen, an outlying base for the 2nd Brigade of the
101st Airborne Division, in the volatile Arghandab Valley, in Kandahar,
Afghanistan, Wednesday, July 21, 2010. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd).
Battalion of the 2nd Marines eats watermelon as he rests
following a gunbattle as part of an operation to clear the
area of insurgents near Musa Qaleh, in northern Helmand
Province, southern Afghanistan, Friday, July 23, 2010.
(AP Photo/Kevin Frayer).
Massachusetts, and Alpha Company, 4th Brigade combat
team,1-508, 82nd parachute infantry regiment tees off
at FOB Bullard in Zabul province, southern Afghanistan,
February 12, 2010. (REUTERS/Baz Ratner ).
Nimroz province, southern Afghanistan January 24,
2010. (REUTERS/Marko Djurica) January 24, 2010
soldier from the 2nd Battalion 12th Infantry take cover as incoming fire
hits inside Command Outpost Michigan at the Pech River Valley
in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009.
(AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills).
There are, of course, many, many pictures of American troops, mostly in full combat gear, on patrol - sometimes they are engaged in firefights, sometimes they are menacing Afghans of various descriptions, sometimes they are talking to groups of kids or even kicking a soccer ball with them. These images are familiar enough. So the sorts of images I've lifted here are not exactly crowding out those more 'standard' images. However, with the exception of the occasional photograph of marines mourning the death of a colleague, images of death and destruction - the actual consequences of war for Afghans and the U.S. military - are exceedingly rare. In fact, other than the image of Joshua Bernard that generated so much controversy last fall, I don't recall seeing any. That may not be intended by the photographers who are covering the war, but it surely is politically convenient.