Barry Goldstein (Photography Fellow 07) has spent time as an imbedded photographer in Iraq and is creating a portrait and oral history project. He used a portion of his fellowship award to purchase his own body armor. Barry has graciously allowed me to reprint a portion of a letter he wrote regarding his current project.
Dear Friends and Colleagues-
As some of you know, I recently spent a month in Iraq finishing up a portrait and oral history project following the 2/69 armored and infantry battalion. When I arrived at Forward Operating Base Rustamiyah on the eastern edge of Baghdad in mid-June, the battalion had been deployed for three months. This was the second deployment for over half of these soldiers and the third deployment for many.
The soldiers of the 2/69 are responsible for a large urban area. They run both mounted and dismounted patrols, advise Iraqi army and police units, and work closely with the District Action Councils – local organizations overseeing neighborhood security and welfare. They have to be warriors, politicians, civil engineers, social workers, economists, and whatever else is called for in their area of operations. The weather is extreme- between 110-120 deg F, and these men and woman carry over 70 lbs. of gear and weaponry. The issue as to what we’re doing in Iraq, or whether we’re being at all successful, is moot. They go where they’re sent, do what they’re told, and try and make the best possible job of it.