October 24, 2021

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The Afghan Battle: A Photographer’s Journal

The Afghan War: A Photographer’s Journal

One of many first issues the New York Instances photographer Tyler Hicks witnessed after arriving in Afghanistan in late 2001, quickly after U.S. airstrikes on Oct. 7 opened the invasion, was the execution of a wounded Taliban fighter. The scene shocked him, upending every little thing he thought he knew about battle and in regards to the Afghan Northern Alliance — the U.S.-aligned fighters who had been his guides and protectors, and the Talib’s killers.

It was one fleeting episode in a fast collection of occasions that unfolded as Mr. Hicks accompanied Northern Alliance fighters, who quickly drove the Taliban from Kabul with the assistance of American airstrikes and Particular Operations forces.

Mr. Hicks returned to Afghanistan greater than 30 occasions over the following 20 years, chronicling nearly each chapter of a battle that dragged on practically 20 years. He photographed American troops in battle, the deaths of Afghan civilians in Taliban bombings, the disputed Afghan elections, schoolgirls attending lessons, and the struggles of peculiar Afghans to outlive violence, starvation and a battle that always appeared countless and intractable.

A battle that started as a mission to punish Al Qaeda for the Sept. 11 terrorist assaults developed into an exhausting battle towards a decided Taliban insurgency amid a nation-building effort geared toward remodeling an impoverished, patriarchal nation burdened by many years of battle. Mr. Hicks was drawn again to Afghanistan by the extreme private relationships he fashioned with the individuals he labored with and by the nation’s uncooked magnificence. He grew to become invested within the nation and the battle — and was decided to observe the story wherever it led him.

A very searing reminiscence for Mr. Hicks was witnessing the loss of life of an American soldier in 2009 within the Korengal Valley in japanese Afghanistan. The soldier was strolling on patrol in entrance of Mr. Hicks when he was killed by a roadside bomb throughout a Taliban ambush. Later, after Mr. Hicks despatched the household pictures of the soldier, the person’s stepmother informed Mr. Hicks how grateful she was that he had survived the assault unhurt.

His most up-to-date task to Afghanistan, in July, introduced Mr. Hicks full circle. He discovered himself close to Bagram Air Base, the place he had photographed the Northern Alliance’s execution of the Taliban fighter practically 20 years earlier.

In 2001, Bagram was a wrecked former Soviet base that finally grew to become the most important American air base in Afghanistan.

In July, the bottom was once more being deserted — this time by American forces, whose final flight departed at evening after the electrical energy had been reduce and the bottom had been left strewn with detritus from the fight mission. Mr. Hicks wandered the bottom alone, taking pictures and encountering an occasional Afghan authorities soldier shocked by the unannounced American exit.

The Bagram pictures had been among the many final Mr. Hicks took earlier than leaving Afghanistan simply earlier than the Taliban swept into Kabul in mid-August, ending the battle and the pricey and conflicted American period.

These pictures, together with different placing pictures taken over 20 years, are beneath:


Northern Alliance fighters trying right into a Taliban-controlled village from the frontline village of Ghorbond.

Northern Alliance fighters on a tank in Jabul Seraj.

Northern Alliance fighters inspecting the destroyed house of a girl who was killed by an American bomb dropped on the Northern Alliance-controlled village of Ghani Khil.


Northern Alliance fighters cruise by means of Kabul, the capital, after assembly scant resistance as they entered the capital. A lot of the Taliban had already fled south.

A Northern Alliance fighter who was shot within the chest taking his final breaths in Maidan Shar, 20 miles southwest of the capital.

A Northern Alliance fighter on the mountainous entrance line within the Salang Move.

After he begs for his life, they shoot him within the chest.

The fighters haul the Talib’s physique away.

1000’s of American troopers broaden the Bagram base.

An Afghan soldier at a cave within the Tora Bora area, the place Osama bin Laden’s path runs chilly.

Girls ready to vote at a mosque in Kabul.

Hamid Karzai wins the election with over 50 p.c of the vote.

Charlie Firm was ambushed in a valley by the Taliban simply earlier than darkish whereas on patrol.

Charlie Firm being picked up by helicopter on the completion of the two-week operation.

An Afghan Nationwide Police officer. The American authorities poured billions of {dollars} into coaching and equipping the Afghan safety forces.

A prayer earlier than a Thanksgiving meal for troopers of the 82nd Airborne.


Fight Outpost Lowell, an remoted American and Afghan base referred to as “the fortress,” close to Kamu in Nuristan Province.

Medics work to avoid wasting the lifetime of an Afghan cook dinner who was wounded in an rebel mortar assault.

An Afghan Nationwide Military soldier being skilled by American Marines throughout an rebel ambush close to Kamu.


An American patrol within the Korengal Valley, a sanctuary for Taliban fighters.

An American soldier injured by a falling boulder throughout a patrol within the mountains of the Korengal.

Troopers on the Korengal outpost throughout a memorial service for Pfc. Richard Dewater, 21, killed by a bomb whereas on patrol.


Afghans line as much as vote in Kabul within the presidential race, on a day of scattered assaults by the Taliban.

Mr. Karzai wins a second time period in 2009 after a contested and drawn-out election that deeply embittered his relations with the USA.

An injured man is rushed from exterior the NATO power’s headquarters and the Ministry of Transportation in Kabul after a automotive bomb exploded.

SURGE, 2010

American Particular Forces troopers take a fatally wounded Afghan Nationwide Military soldier to a Black Hawk medevac helicopter in Kandahar Province.

Marines with Firm Ok, Third Battalion, Sixth Marines, work to clear an space in Marja, Helmand Province, that had been a supply of ambushes.

Troopers digging by means of the rubble after a bomb destroyed an outpost in Kandahar Province. Six Individuals had been killed.


American troopers within the Charbaran Valley, an arid, high-elevation valley in Paktika Province that served as a transit space for militants who cross over from Pakistan.

A U.S. Military unit of the 77th Subject Artillery fires a 105-millimeter artillery barrage towards a Taliban rocket place close to the Pakistan border.

Troopers had been introduced in by helicopter to brush and search an space underneath management of the Haqqani community of the Taliban, within the hope of stopping extra assaults on Kabul.


American F/A-18F Tremendous Hornet strike fighters after takeoff from the plane provider John C. Stennis within the North Arabian Sea, en path to Kandahar Province for a fight mission.

On the flight deck of the Stennis.

An F/A-18F fighter refueling from a KC-10 over Kandahar Province.


Afghan Nationwide Military troopers get well a car that was attacked and disabled turning a Taliban ambush in Sangin District, a hostile point of interest for the militant group in northern Helmand Province.

Afghan troopers pray in a makeshift mosque on the brigade headquarters in Sangin District.

A bullet-riddled guard put up on the Afghan Nationwide Military’s brigade headquarters in Sangin.


Militia fighters gathering in Mazar-i-Sharif in July to obtain directions to defend town towards a Taliban assault. Town, as soon as a stronghold of the Northern Alliance, was overrun by the Taliban just a few weeks later.

Bagram Air Base was all however abandoned in July after the American departure from the bottom, as soon as house to hundreds of troops.

A passenger awaiting safety clearance at a Herat checkpoint. The Taliban would quickly seize town, Afghanistan’s third-largest.

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