One of the fascinating areas of Bastion is ‘War Like Junk’. Used equipment that is due for the scrap heap, or being broken down first so it is unusable to the enemy. Here, old engines sit, almost resembling the faces and characters of a Pixar film, ready to be broken and scrapped. There are Crates and crates of recognisable household items alongside others that are the obvious leftovers of war. One crate sits full of empty shotgun cartridges and smoke canisters. The image of close range combat is projected into the mind.
There are the inevitable images of the sorting and packing away of equipment…An ISO Shipping container full of guns, equipment laid out in order on the floor, rows of bandoliers produce a surreal landscape of colour and shape, and finally the front of a 747 aircraft wide open like the mouth of a whale swallowing up the retuning boxes.
In Kandahar there are photographs from and around the hangers of the Tornado aircraft. One image is shot directly into the back of a tornado engine. This is done in a way that it no longer looks like a hard mechanical fierce structure but one of colour, beauty and symmetry, almost natural and organic.
Another shot from inside the protective hangers of the Tornados focuses in on a bird that has made its nest high above the jet, perched on a ring from the tent.
What I noticed on the flight lines from both Bastion and Kandahar were the incredible paintings on the blast walls, some five blast walls wide, put there by each individual unit that has served. As these were all being white-washed over in the week following my trip I decided to document every painting made. This in itself could well be made into a fascinating and historical book. Adorned with the names of those that served in the unit, each is individual in its style, colour, humour and sometimes dark take on where they are and what they are doing.
In Kabul you get a glimpse into the future. Here the elite Afghan troops are being trained. The future is very much in their hands. Some of the most symbolic images are of the Afghan forces being trained in hand-to-hand combat. The images show the faces of these incredible looking people, some with strength in their eyes and some with fear, but all with their hands up, with clenched fists ready to take on the fight.