Tagging the Battlefield
In the war camps of Kandahar, antsy young soldiers turn security barriers into street art. The command culture calls it vandalism, but one senior Army vet sees poetry.
Army veteran James E. Toler spent twenty-nine years as a paratrooper, medic, helicopter rescue pilot and jet pilot, serving in Kuwait, Somalia, the Balkans, and most recently, Afghanistan. Recently retired from the military, Toler’s latest mission involves a project to document soldiers’ street art—intricate and often intense graffiti that he fell in love with while based at an Army encampment in Afghanistan. Narratively spoke with Toler about why he thinks this art is worth saving.
When did you first notice these soldiers’ artwork?