I'm not a war reporter. And this book is not a book about war, nor a book on the conflict in Afghanistan.
If traces of war present in my family universe did not have because of my adventure desires - a "broken face" father - I never tried, so far, to join these accelerators land life and death that are armed conflicts.
Living the war? View the war? I Will Not! I always know that it does not really stop the day the cease-fire. Photographing traces of war to me always seemed more relevant, more full of meaning, than chasing the blurry image of a fiery explosion or faces ravaged by fire, blood and suffering . This race to the testimony often ends with the same image, both stubborn, cruel, painful, unbearable, an image that ends up falling into the deepest oblivion before resurface elsewhere, further, in magazines and on television alike, on the occasion of another conflict, another war, another "theater" of operation, as if it were some kind of yet another "remake "of the same live show to watch again and again.
And yet. When the opportunity came for me to follow the soldiers of the 92nd RI to their projection in Afghanistan, I realized that there was in my work as a photographer and a lack bridge I had there a wonderful opportunity to live. I realized that there was a man in my life a missing episode and that was a real chance that I had to enter.
It was not the war, but this world of soldiers, engaged, as was my father himself, he was interested in entering. Knowing what I had escaped, perhaps, to understand those who decided one day to commit, surely.
But how to insert myself in a military process for the sole purpose of telling them a story? And what a story? The projection next much of the 92nd RI in the Afghan conflict provided the framework, decor, opportunity, a great opportunity to see something else. But what? Death perhaps? Life certainly. How would I behave myself, lanky and chatty in this opaque universe, secret where the reserve is not just a right but a duty.
I remember a moment of hesitation when the early morning last winter, I waited for the first time my communication officer at the entrance of La Courtine camp. It was cold. I realized at that moment that I booted a job that would compare myself to my fate. A long work, probably physical and surely dangerous, Afghanistan today is not a dream destination. I was going to enter fully into the reality of the French army with in focus, a Opex. Maybe I'd hate to face me this rigor dressed all in khaki. It does happen. I was caught. Everything happened simply, naturally. Soon the soldiers accepted me, integrated. Of course, I have been tested, but everyone understood that I was not there to judge but to share with them everyday, everyday life.
This book is primarily a witness. This one of a kind experience that lasted one year. Everyone I've photographed are not in the book. I had to sort through thousands of pictures, remove, select, to test compositions ultimately to unfold the story of an exceptional human and military adventure. That forgotten forgive me, they know they do not make less of the story.
The military is a being "flexible, feline and boatswain." The drives are more difficult and war is easy, the ancients said. Along the way, a new president was elected, which decided a quick disengagement. The mission of the 92nd RI has been redefined and fast: transfer the camps in the Afghan army, ANA, disengage the COP and FOB Torah convey military equipment to Kabul before being repatriated to France . This mission has continued for some time after my departure, after Tora handover to the Afghans. The commanding officer, Colonel Gilles Haberey had repeatedly told his troops that their work pre-screening would be their best life insurance. He was listening. Death is always a matter of millimeters. The speed, agility and courage of these "Wild Geese" Celtic have had because of the deadly hostility of these pseudo-resistant so-called insurgents.
For my part, I remain humble how when we entrust his life to others without offering anything in exchange, mutual trust that we have towards each other is essential. At every moment, everything could have gone in the drama, but now all are back in Auvergne, unharmed. And thanks to all of them, too. Mission accomplished for everyone. The adventure was unique and it is a page in the history of the French Army and the 92nd Infantry Regiment Clermont-Ferrand who turns. I am proud and honored to have participated. Regarding my inner quest, I too use my reserve duty but I know better why I will never be a war reporter.