Pictures of the ANA

The most prominent feature of FOB Al Masaak is the large hill just inside the gate.  It is apparent that the FOB was built around this natural observation point next to Highway 1.  It is a great place to get a good view of the surrounding area.  Unfortunately, as I said previously, the scenery around Al Masaak is on the boring side.

At FOB Al Masaak, unlike many of the other bases, the Afghan national Army (ANA) Soldiers share the base with the Coalition Forces without a boundary or barrier of any kind separating the Afghan area from the Coalition portion of the base. So besides a visual vantage point, the hill is also used to attempt to get a good cell phone signal.  Every evening the hill is covered with clusters of ANA soldiers smoking, and talking on their phones.

I like going up there to watch the interesting traffic pass by on Highway 1 and to watch the sunset behind the mountains in the distance.  The sunsets are nice, but they have not really struck me as picture worthy because the mountains are so far away & without clouds to provide additional color & contrast, they just seem to lose some magnificence going from reality to photos.

But yesterday (13 JUL 12) I decided to give it a try anyway, so I brought my camera with on my trip up the hill near sunset.  I climbed the hill from a different direction than usual & I liked the way the others on the hill could be silhouetted from the right angle & started taking these pictures of the ANA on the hill.

After a while one of the older Soldiers tentatively approached me & made it clear he wanted his picture taken.  I obliged and showed him his photo on the screen of my camera.  He beamed like a little kid that had won first prize.  Then the flood gates opened, soon I had 15-20 ANA soldiers clustered around wanting their picture.

He approached me to have his picture taken. When I showed it to him it was if he had won the lottery.

I enjoyed doing it for them, especially because it made them so happy, but it did end my sunset efforts.  Oh well, there will be more days to do that!

Thanks for looking!

Click an image to see it full-size:

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15 responses »

  1. Can you print them out and take them back there?

  2. Margarita says:

    These are wonderful! Since I’ve been remembering to take pictures as I go about my business, I’m always pleasantly surprised by what the cell phone camera actually captures that I didn’t see “bare-eyed.” 🙂

  3. Reggie says:

    These are wonderful images, Dan. Are you going to give those guys copies of the pics you took, for them to take back home?

  4. Jim - Rapid City, SD says:

    Dan – great photos and wonderful “hearts & minds” stuff. When it’s all done & over, isn’t that what it’s all about. Thx for sharing these, just excellent.

  5. What a wonderful heartwarming gift for them!

  6. MakeSomethingMondays says:

    Wow, “looking through the wire” is phenomenal. I can’t stop looking at it!

  7. You are so talented! Not only can you capture black silhouettes in the amazing orange sunsets, but your portrait shots are really amazing too!

  8. aidanmcgee says:

    I agree, these are very high quality pics indeed. You are doing citizen journalism a service because these are the kind of images that mainstream television and image media tends to miss in the rush to relay the big immediate headline story – and because these are the sort of images that draw all sorts of people in irrespective of their opinions on the Afghan conflict. I guess military life comes first but don’t rule out the prospect of trying to get these exhibited somehow…it’s a good start by putting them up here…

  9. […] One of my first posts after I arrived on FOB Al Masaak was Pictures of the ANA in which I talked about how excited the ANA soldiers were to have their pictures taken.  I spent […]

  10. […] the picture with me as the guy I introduced in one of my first posts from Al Masaak (Pictures of the ANA).  He was the first Soldier to approach me to ask for his picture to be taken and he does […]

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