For many years I have heard the American military in Afghanistan use the phrase, “putting an Afghan face on the war.” It is invoked when the coalition has achieved something it wishes to publicise, but wants to give all the credit to the Afghan troops. The theory is that by praising the Afghans their morale is improved, making it more likely that they will do better in the future. At the same time, the media report this Afghan “success” back in the West, giving hope to the public that the Afghans are improving and so the war will soon be over.
I feel these portraits…do something I’ve wanted to do for many years. They put an Afghan face on the war!
-Photographer John D McHugh, on his project The People of Afghanistan
Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, politician and runner up in the last Afghanistan Presidential election
Madina Saidi, skateboarder and instructor at the Skateistan NGO
Lieutenant Jan Aqa, Afghan National Army