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Reminders That We’re at War

October 10th, 2007

I haven’t seen it first hand. If it were for the right reason, I might just go. But for me, the right reason is something along the lines of how trauma is affecting soldiers and their communities (surprise), which is not a topic entirely appreciated by the military nor overtly pursued by American media. Our soldiers are coming home at some point; how will we receive them?

It has been said that America isn’t really at war because it doesn’t affect the average person on a daily basis. Not like those who are in it. So I felt I should include some media from other people as a reminder, however vain, that we are killing and we are dying and this will remain forever in the conscious and unconscious thoughts for the soldiers and their families who are neck deep in it.

Most Strykers are based at Ft. Lewis, not far from Seattle. I did a piece on them before we went to war as part of ex-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s lighter, faster, more tech army. Linked at left is an insurgent video that was reported on by pro-military blogger Michael Yon. While some of the soldiers were ejected from the vehicle, they all survived without serious wounds. Unlike an earlier incident where six soldiers and World Picture News photographer Dimitri Chebotayev were killed when a larger IED detonated beneath their flat-hulled Stryker. Have you heard of the MRAP? It’s got a V-shaped hull which helps disperse the force of a blast. Like body armor with trauma plates, like up-armored Humvees, they’re slow to get into the field. Unfortunately, they don’t protect against EFP’s. I’m a headline skimmer too so this stuff might be a bunch of jargon to you.

Here’s the flickr blog of a guy on an ordnance disposal team in Iraq. I think his images of IED’s are beautiful; the things are meant to kill, but he’s captured some moments. I pinged him, told him I liked his images. His response “We appreciate you looking into our world over here. Believe me…it helps.”

Coming back to the idea of the aftermath, photographer Ashley Gilbertson just released his book “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” which, if you don’t know, is the military phonetic alphabet for “What The Fuck.” In this CNN interview Gilbertson briefly discusses trauma and how no one who has been to Iraq is the same coming back. Here he is on CBS. And the Virginia Quarterly Review. I encourage you to read the essay.

Oh, and here’s an AP photographer’s look at “the forgotten war,” the original war on terror in Afghanistan, from the perspective of a platoon that is doing a lot of walking. By the way, I’ve got a rough draft of the first English language climbing guide to Afghanistan if anyone wants to put up some FA’s. It was something I was supposed to edit for a program supported by the Aga Khan Foundation. The intention was to help develop adventure tourism in Afghanistan, but then the Taliban came back.

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