Weekends, for me, are usually a time to reflect and what a better way to reflect than to remember what our troops are going through — and doing for us — both at home and abroad, especially in the killing fields of Afghanistan.

As I have done in the past, I will be posting — in two parts — a set of photos that I find not only beautiful but which also capture the essence of the mission our troops are engaged in, their character, their professionalism — the hardships they often endure, the little pleasures they sometimes enjoy.

But before anyone brings it up: I am not a neocon; I don’t find war “beautiful;” I don’t find the weapons of war “beautiful.” I do find the photography beautiful and I admire how it captures all of the aforementioned.

Title Photo: The optic lens on a U.S. soldier’s weapon shows view of an old Russian observation point from the Marawara District Center in Kunar province, Afghanistan, Feb. 7, 2013


A coalition force member maintains security during a movement to establish a temporary patrol base with Afghan special forces in Herat province, Afghanistan, Feb. 17, 2013. Coalition force members and Afghan special forces teams conducted satellite patrols from a temporary patrol base o lure insurgents out of hiding.


An F-16 Fighting Falcon from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., prepares for aerial refueling during Exercise Razor Talon Feb. 7, 2013, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. Razor Talon is a monthly, large force exercise and joint-unit training opportunity to employ cutting edge operational concepts such as air-sea and maritime air support on the Atlantic Coast. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Shane A Cuomo)


A U.S. soldier leads a foot patrol using a metal detector to find improvised explosive devices in Panjwa’i district, Afghanistan, Jan. 29, 2013. The soldiers are assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team


Senior Airman Bambi White provides security for a C-130J Super Hercules Dec. 5, 2012, at a forward operating base in Afghanistan. When an aircraft lands at locations with little to no security on the landing strip, fly-away security teams come along to provide additional protection for the aircraft and crew. White is with the 451st Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder)

Taking Care

A U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter prepares to touch down to transport evacuees of a multinational emergency evacuation drill in Pattaya, Chonburi province, Kingdom of Thailand, during exercise Cobra Gold 2013, Feb. 17, 2013. Military members from Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, and Malaysia worked alongside U.S. Marines and sailors of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit to process multinational citizens through security and screening stations before evacuating them via helicopter.


U.S. Marines jump out of the back of a KC-130J Hercules during an aerial-delivery exercise as part of Cobra Gold 2013 in Thailand, Feb. 15, 2013. U.S. and Thai marines participated in the training to enhance combat readiness and military-to-military cooperation between the two nations. The U.S. Marines are assigned to the 3rd Marine Division’s 3rd Marine Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force.


U.S. military and civilian International Security Assistance Force personnel visited the Aschiana School to distribute bags of donated hats, mittens and other cold-weather clothing to children in Kabul, Afghanistan, Jan. 27, 2013. It was the third time the volunteers visited the school, which provides vocational and literacy education to kids from the streets and refugee camps. Nearly 200 students received bags of donated goods.

All images and captions: Department of Defense

Dorian de Wind, Military Affairs Columnist
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Enjoyed the photos Dorian. I admire and appreciate what our military men and women do when it comes to representing and defending our country. I don’t admire politicians who abuse the national trust by unneccesarily putting them in harms way, and I know you don’t either. The photo of Marines jumping out of the Hercules is amazing!