Portraits of the Afghan National Army

World A stunning new collection of images provides an intriguing glimpse into the world of foot soldiers in the Afghan National Army.

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Kevin Frayer has made his career covering conflict, his job as a chief photographer for the Associated Press has taken him, over the past two decades, into strife-torn regions around the world from the former Yugoslavia to the Gaza Strip. Frayer, a Canadian, has most recently been deployed in Afghanistan. It is from there that he has filed a series of 36 black and white portaits of Afghan National Army foot soldiers.

A selection of these images are reproduced here, opening a window to the lives of the modern soldier. Frayer's pictures are epic in their composition, in the stillness of his subjects: the muscular pose of Faisullah Kareemay, his weapon hoisted high on his chest, his sunglasses hiding his gaze; the brooding stare of the beret-clad Han Shareen, his rifle raised vertically, trigger-finger pointing upwards, motioning towards his furrowed brow; the patrolman simply known as Aijad, his backpack weighed down with four projectiles, another paint-chipped missile in hand and an undersized helmet perched precariously, secured with a strap, on his head.

Frayer's subjects posed at the US Army Combat Outpost Ware in southern Afghanistan's Arghandab Valley, where the American war effort against the Taliban is now most sharply concentrated. Each soldier is captured moments after returning to base from a patrol of the surrounding area, although Frayer's artful composition could easily fool the eye into thinking these are images shot in a studio rather than a conflict zone.

* The Review