Claire Beckett. Photographer. Boston.

In Training: Simulating Iraq. National Training Center, Fort Irwin, CA.

This series focuses on young, newly enlisted soldiers and their training environments. Claire said "I am deeply struck by how young the soldiers are, by their physical vulnerability and by the gravity of what is asked of them. When I see these soldiers I often feel a great compassion for them, and my hope is that those viewing these photographs will approach each individual on a personal, human level (...) The most important thing that I’ve learned is that there is a tremendous variety among soldiers in terms of their personal biographies, their motivations and their politics. In the circles that I frequent there tends to be a set of beliefs about who soldiers are, and this often casts our young soldiers as uninformed victims. This attitude really bothers me because it robs soldiers of their agency. We do not have a draft in the US today. Everyone who enlists does so by her or his own choice. Yes, we have an unjust socio-economic system in America, but it is a mistake to cast soldiers exclusively as victims of this system (...) I have observed that for certain soldiers joining the military is the adventure of a lifetime, for some it is a way to pay for college and for others there is a deep sense of patriotic duty. Among the many soldiers I have met, there have been right-wing Christian conservatives, poor people, Harvard-educated economic elites, left-leaning democrats, Buddhists, Muslims and environmentalists."

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