Picturing Americans at War in Afghanistan

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A U.S. infantryman enters a wooded area in the Tangi Valley/Adam Ferguson — VII Mentor for TIME

A U.S. infantryman enters a wooded area in the Tangi Valley/Adam Ferguson — VII Mentor for TIME

We did something a little different with this week’s issue of Time. We devoted the cover package almost entirely to a photo essay, pictures of a single U.S. infantry company operating in a place called the Tangi Valley in Afghanistan. The photographer is Adam Ferguson, who has been to Afghanistan repeatedly as part of a project to record the day to day lives of ordinary American soldiers. Last month he went there on assignment from Time to spend a few weeks with the 102 men of Apache company. He came back with some pretty extraordinary pictures. To help readers get their bearings, I kicked in a brief introductory text.

With President Obama expected to make a decision some time in the next few weeks about whether to increase the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, there’s going to be a lot of debate about the direction of American policy there. (For what it’s worth, I haven’t made up my own mind.) Pictures aren’t going to decide that debate and they shouldn’t. They’re rarely very useful as a means of analysis, they speak to a different part of the brain. But they bring a kind of information to the table that words can’t convey.

There’s a slide show of Ferguson’s pictures here. Recommended viewing.

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