Paul Melcher's selection
And you thought that the only things they could shoot was bullets. Think again. The US army, along with most majors armies of the world have understood, a long time ago, the value of photography. First used to show self engrossing pictures of generals surveying their victorious troops, it has since evolved to give a more accurate picture of the activities of their units.
With troops stationed all over the world and the media covering them not always friendly to their purpose, the military has taken upon themselves to document most of what they do. And they do not take any first class privates and stick a camera in their hands. The photographers you see working for the army are some of the best photojournalists in the world.
There is not much an army photographer cannot shoot. Like their embedded civilians peers, they cannot cover classified information or shoot anything that could help enemies in any way. Besides that, they are free to photograph anything they see. You will see images of wounded soldiers or families crying over caskets. You will see active combat and worn out personnels on the bring of nervous breakdown. You will witness broken soldiers trying to rehabilitate into civilian life even thought they have left part of their bodies on foreign land.
Although you will see images of the proud and the strong, the shinny machines of war parading under a red, white and blue sky, you will also discover some of their limitation.
Sure, army photographers are military personnel first and their allegiance is clear and define. Nevertheless, it doesn't prevent them to also show the ugly side of war.
Every year, the department of defense organizes a competition for the best images of the year. Held during the month of March, it is open to any army personnel who wishes to enter. The subject do not have to be combat or army related, although it seems to help.
There are11 categories,ranging from combat documentation, to news, pictorial and sports including multimedia.
The result of the 2011 edition is an impressive array of images that would have certainly be well placed in the World Press Awards. You can see this year recipients on the site, but be warned, it is one of the worst designed site you have probably seen in a long time.