Last week was the 11th Annual International Sniper Competition at Fort Benning, just outside Columbus, Georgia. This was my second year capturing the event, often requiring a helmet and body armor, complete with ceramic plates, to follow the snipers night and day. They endure sleepless nights and various training exercises that test their skill at up to one thousand meters. The thunder of Knight’s M110 quakes through your chest, and at 2AM, Arabic hymns are blasted over speakers as flares light the night sky. It is a rather intense experience, presenting the most difficult of situations to photograph in. The role of the sniper is even more intense, and immensely diverse, spanning from reconnaissance and intelligence, to long range target selection and providing an umbrella of protection for ground troops, with unparalleled stealth. Thankfully, no one was shooting back at us this time around.
To see more images from this event in high resolution, click here.
I have learned so much from these soldiers over the past couple of years. Like anyone new, once they know you are there in support, their guard drops a bit. Whether or not you agree with our politicians, with the reasons we are at war, please understand that our soldiers are not the decisions our lawmakers create. They are no different than you and I; they are our brothers, our sons, our fathers and uncles, and deserve our relentless support. They serve to protect us, and often share the same sentiments, yet with far greater challenges and risks than any outsider could ever understand. Their fellow soldiers come and go, with a turnover that often equates in the tragic loss of life. I cannot tell you how deep in admiration I hold these men (and women). I wish we didn’t need their jobs filled, but I’m tremendously thankful for the sacrifices they make.