Critical Mass Top 50, 2010

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Dima Gavrysh

www.dimagavrysh.com


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Dima Gavrysh

For two months in 2009 I was embedded with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. I volunteered to go because it was a topic of great interest to me. Like so many people, I was trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together and figure out why the best military force on the planet cannot defeat an army of illiterate guys armed with old AK-47s. Moreover, I was born in the former Soviet Union, and this is not the first time that the country I live in is fighting a war in Afghanistan without making much progress. I took a photograph of Captain Harris, the commander of Combat Outpost Tangi, in Wardak province, as he was waiting for a helicopter to take him to the funeral of one of his soldiers. He was covered by a cloud of dust and seemed lost and overcome by his surroundings -- the photo turned out to be truthfully despondent. His people were mostly despised by the locals, and he constantly dreaded losing his people to the IEDs. I bet he loathed the role he was assigned to play in winning the hearts and minds of the locals, and he probably did not believe in it even if he tried. Overall, I had a very Kafka-esque experience in Afghanistan. It seemed that there was uneasiness and frustration mixed with confusion among the soldiers that I tried to convey in my work. No one knew the right way to fight this war and when it would to end, if ever. All of it looked like some huge experiment, where a civilization was being pushed forward through warfare, while the civilians were caught in a cross-fire between the U.S. forces and the Taliban. It did not seem to work, and yet we still try.