The American Military’s Deadliest Battleground Isn’t Some Remote Stretch of Desert Across the Globe. It’s Here at Home.

—  By David Guttenfelder  —

For two decades I photographed war. My work took me to countries ravaged by combat, and places all too often forgotten
by the world. Congo, Kosovo, Gaza, Liberia. Finally, it took me to the front lines of the American military’s
bloodiest battlegrounds, to Iraq and Afghanistan and the young men and women I would come to know so well.

 

 

A photographer, even a combat photographer, is no soldier. After a couple of months on each assignment, I could always choose to leave. But I went back to war, year after year, always looking for ways to share what those military men and women endured in Afghanistan and Iraq. I traveled the streets of Basra and Baghdad as Saddam Hussein’s regime collapsed, riding with exhausted Marines who by then were fueled by little more than adrenaline. In the Afghan lowlands, in villages where opium is the currency and poverty is everywhere, I slept beside young men in shallow foxholes that looked so much like graves. 

In those grim places, American military members tried to make lives for themselves. They fed me and protected me. And I tried to ensure no one back home would forget what they were doing.