The Best Defense

A photographer explains this shot from his time with the Army in Afghanistan

Best Defense is in summer re-runs. This item originally ran on March 10, 2014.

There is a wonderful portfolio of photographs by Chase Steely in the first edition of the new magazine, the Pass in Review. He is a soldier who just decided to take photographs while deployed to Afghanistan, and he clearly has an eye for it. One limitation of his work, he told the magazine, was that, "I didn't get many action pictures because when stuff was going down I was either on the radio or shooting so I wasn't taking photos."

I asked for a shot Steely considers representative of his work, and he picked the one you see here. He explained: "I like to capture the everyday things, and bring a sense of what it is like to be a soldier on the day to day. I wouldn't know where to begin if I had to pose people and shoot traditional style portraits. I like to just walk along and shoot as if no one knows I'm there."

His work is compiled in a self-published book titled The Longest Year: A Photograph­ic Journey. It is a great visual account of one unit's tour.

Chase Steely

The Best Defense

Sharp on defense budget: We're taking risks with ground forces, so it would be prudent to plan for ways to rebuild them

Best Defense is in summer re-runs. This item originally ran on March 5, 2014.

One of the best people I know on analyzing the defense budget is Travis Sharp, and he delivers as usual in his new brief. He concludes that the United States is taking some risks by cutting its ground forces, and so should study different ways to regenerate ground forces quickly. Given this situation, Sharp, who lives up to his surname, writes:

DOD could add more substance to the debate by studying transformative models for generating ground forces, including a progressive- or tiered-readiness system. Tiered readiness has a bad reputation because it is often blamed for past U.S. military failures. However, critics often overlook the fact that these failures had many causes, including significant strategic errors by civilian political leaders.

Center of Military History/U.S. Army