A view of Afghanistan's mountains in Logar Province from a blackhawk helicopter.
During the height of the anti-coalition insurgency in Afghanistan in 2009, US Infantry soldiers of the 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division were deployed in eastern Afghanistan’s Logar and Wardack Provinces. Various units, including soldiers from the 2nd Battalion 87th Infantry Regiment, the 4th Batallion 25th Field Artillery Regiment, and the 1st Battalion 32nd Infantry Regiment’s “Battle Company”, endured some of the region’s heaviest fighting that year. Many soldiers who joined the army post 9/11, wishing to fight the “war on terror”, had trouble seeing how their role in the most remote parts of eastern Afghanistan could further their country’s security thousands of miles away. These soldiers lived on small, remote COPs (Combat Operation Posts), often located in the middle of nowhere and lacked basic utilities and materials such as electricity, heat and running water. Exhausted from daily eight to ten hour-long patrols across rugged terrain, the soldiers often found solace among the small pleasures of COP life – like playing cards or receiving care packages - which served as a distraction from the battlefield and a way to endure the endless boredom inside the wire. As dozens of soldiers had been injured or killed 6 months in to the deployment and troop morale was low, the reality of war continued to resonate when soldiers battled fiercely with Taliban insurgents. By the fall of 2009, Battle Company’s platoons were at half strength due to the amount of injured troops, and the end of the war was nowhere in sight.
The following images were produced with a holga - a small, plastic film camera. The holga camera distorts light and yields an infinite perspective of depth, which is intended to represent themes of warped reality, distorted romanticism, and the blurry disenchantment often experienced in the theatre of war.
US infantry soldiers of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division patrol through the remote countryside in the south of Logar Province.
US infantry soldier SPC Daniel Brand, left, lights a cigarette at COP Charkh in the south of Logar Province, Afghanistan.
SPC Adam Ramsey, SPC Aldin Zukic, and SPC Jason Vann open mail and care packages at COP Charkh in Logar Province.
US military police practice drills at a Combat Operating Post in Logar Province.
SGT Michael Irwin, SPC Daniel Brand, and SGT Daniel Hernandez shave and wash their faces using bottled water and side view mirrors taken off of MRAP vehicles at Combat Operating Post Charkh in Logar Province. Remote COPs in Afghanistan lack common utilities like running water and electricity.
SGT Michael Irwin relaxes on his bed at a COP Charkh in Logar Province.
Graffiti scratched in to the side of a dirt wall by a US infantry soldier in Wardack Province, Afghanistan.
SSG Cody Anderson is exhausted after a patrol in the Tangi Vally, Wardack Province.
SPC Matthew Ledford rests his head in his hands, exhausted, at COP Charkh after a firefight which took place on patrol Logar Province.
SGT John Virgadamo, SPC Matthew Ledford, and SPC Brian Lucey watch SPC Adam Ramsey, right, jump onto a pile of mattresses at COP Charkh in Logar Province.
SPC Dirk Terpstra, left, practices a high kick with SPC Darren Stovall, right, at COP Charkh in Logar Province.
A soldier watches movies on his bed at COP Charkh in Logar Province.
SPC Christopher Ostrander is wounded after an IED detonated under his MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle while on patrol in Logar Province. Ostrander incurred several injuries to the head including a Traumatic Brain Injury and cracked skull.
SPC John Alamo directs fire toward Taliban insurgents after being fired upon while on patrol in Logar Province.
SPC Justin Rottenberry sleeps while taking a break from patrolling in Logar Province.
A soldier looks at the Sport's Illustrated magazine swimsuit issue at COP Charkh in Logar Province.
SPC Chris Cooley digs through his duffle bag on his bed at COP Charkh in Logar Province.
A soldier eats candy while on guard duty at COP Charkh in Logar Province.
SGT Brian Cattaneo, center, and SPC Joseph Pohl, right, play poker at a COP Charkh in Logar Province.
PFC Michael Mackey gets his hair cut at COP Charkh in Logar Province.
Soldiers of Bravo Company, 1-32 Infantry Regiment sit in the cafeteria during a mission briefing at COP Charkh in Logar Province.
PFC Cody Marshall smokes a cigarette at a COP Charkh in Logar Province.
A soldier engages in a firefight while on patrol in Logar Province.
SPC Chris Conte stands guard while on patrol in Logar Province.