Western Military Graffiti in Afghanistan


When James Toler [a 29-year army veteran and helicopter pilot] left the command center after his first stint in Kandahar, he says the newly constructed walls were quite plain – a few odd spray-painted, army-approved company insignias, nothing more.

Yet as he began to come and go over the decade that followed, the officer noticed the city’s bland, bullet-riddled walls began to transform into an urban canvas.




“These graffiti tags just started popping up more and more, and soon it got to the point where some of the walls had as many as 20 per segment,” he explains.

“Somewhere along the way from that acceptable practice of putting up the logos of a particular motor pool, it turned into real street taggers – the true artists – coming out at night and showing just how good they really were.”

In order to gather art materials, for example, they salvage excess green and sand-colored paint from tank maintenance crews. Then, to reproduce a plethora of WWII-era pin-ups and emotive pop-culture icons, the troops trim out stencils using knives and the odd bit of cardboard they may come across.


Via Salon.

This entry was posted in Culture, History, Visual Art by Heretic. Bookmark the permalink.

About Heretic

I design video games for a living, write fiction, political theory and poetry for personal amusement, and train regularly in Western European 16th century swordwork. On frequent occasion I have been known to hunt for and explore abandoned graveyards, train tunnels and other interesting places wherever I may find them, but there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that I am preparing to set off a zombie apocalypse. Nothing that will stand up in court, at least. I use paranthesis with distressing frequency, have a deep passion for history, anthropology and sociological theory, and really, really, really hate mayonnaise. But I wash my hands after the writing. Promise.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s