Robert L. Cunningham, Photographer.
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With combat resupply missions running daily, and troops being moved around the country, I often found myself aboard the most common mode of travel, a helicopter. Seated on the back of a Chinook helicopter ramp, a member of the helicopters crew keeps a watchful eye for any threats that might arise. Threats to the aircraft can be from enemy fire or from obstacles the pilots cannot see. These crewmembers also handle making sure that passengers approach the aircraft in a safe manner.
Published by National Geographic. Shindand Air Base, Herat, Afghanistan-Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon receive a command briefing on the mission progress of National Guard forces in western Afghanistan.
Published by National Geographic. Sabari District, Afghanistan 1st Lt. Matthew Vitellaro (far right), a platoon leader assigned to the U.S. Armys 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division reviews mission details with members of Charlie Company, 1-26, in eastern Afghanistan. 
Published by National Geographic. Tani District, Khost Province, Afghanistan- A US Army sergeant assigned to the 1st Infantry Division holds the hand of Ramn Akbal Khan, a student at the local elementary school. With the help of an interpreter and a member of the Afghan National Amy, the student and the sergeant shared culture-based education, with the student teaching the sergeant about local customs, and the sergeant teaching the student about security in the region. 
Published by National Geographic. During a nighttime mission, a US Army Sergeant assigned to the 49th Military Police Brigade takes one last moment of rest before setting out back to the base. This mission consisted of meeting with the local Afghan National Police Chief about increased risks in his area, and what the ISAF can do about it. The box on the table contained police notebooks, radios, and other essential items that the US Armys Military Police were providing to the Police Chief.
Published by National Geographic. Tani District, Khost Province, Afghanistan- Young Afghan girls come out to investigate the presence of U.S. and ISAF personnel conducting a meeting with village elders in eastern Afghanistan.
Published by National Geographic. Narizah, Khost Province, Afghanistan- A US Army sergeant assigned to the 1st Infantry Division participates in a meeting with village elders and local children in eastern Afghanistan. The Afghan culture is one of tribes and personal relationships. ISAF personnel must build strong personal relationships with the leaders of the cities in which they work in order to accomplish the mission in Afghanistan.
Published by National Geographic. Members of the Afghan security and military forces train for various missions and capabilities in preparation for the 2014 scheduled withdrawal of US forces.
Published by National Geographic. Members of the US Armys 1st Infantry Division search a building in Eastern Afghanistan.
Published by National Geographic. US Army Captain Julie Snyder of the 212 Infantry awaits an available seat on a flight from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. 
Published by National Geographic. Sabari District, Afghanistan- A Solder from the U.S. Armys 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment scans the area around his base while testing a newly-fielded rifle system. Called the Blue Spaders, the 26th Infantry Regiment was founded in 1901, and has served in World War I, World War II, Vietnam, and the Global War on Terror. 
Published by National Geographic. Afghans wait as ISAF personnel search a vehicle. 
Afghans commonly use motorcycles, as they provide a superior capability in the various terrains of the county.
Published by National Geographic. During the hottest parts of the day, Afghans often stop working, taking a few hours for the sun to start going down before getting back to work.
Published by National Geographic. During a nighttime mission, a US Army solder takes a moment to smoke a cigarette.
Published by National Geographic.
The Chaplain executed an about face, and the four men snapped to attention. The hospital staff member opened the containers doors. The men entered the box, and the lead solder was heard giving commands. After a short moment, the men reappeared bearing a stretcher that held the body of a fallen US Army Sergeant, draped in the American flag. The men and women gathered snapped to attention. The detail brought the fallen soldier to the Chaplain, who, after a moment of whispered prayer, about-faced and led the detail slowly down the pathway.
Published by National Geographic. As the detail passed down the ranks, the soldiers individually saluted their fallen comrade. The pace was slow, and reverent. A UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter from the 10th Mountain Division sat on the helipad. The detail approached the Blackhawks rear door. The crew chiefs saluted, and held their salute as the wheels of the stretcher were removed. The detail preformed a 180 degree turn, placing the head of the fallen solder into the Blackhawk first. The Chaplain asked the assembly to kneel in prayer. The soldiers took a knee. With eyes closed, the Chaplain placed his hand on the flag, and held his right hand out as he prayed.
Published by National Geographic. When the prayer was done, the soldiers arose. Eight soldiers dressed in black shorts and white shirts, indicating that they were wounded warriors, approached the helicopter. Individually, they stood in front of their fallen brother, and saluted him.
Published by National Geographic. The crew chiefs moved in to secure the stretcher to the deck of the helicopter. The door was closed, and the pilots began their startup procedures. A second Blackhawk was spinning up as escort. With blades turning, and permission granted, the Blackhawk bearing the fallen soldier took the lead, taxiing to the take-off point, and took to the air. The amassed soldiers and civilians then disbanded.
Published by National Geographic.