Navy Budget Cuts Hit Fabled Camera Units

navy combat sonar.jpg
(USS Carney  Feb 17, 2018. Image by: MASS COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST 2ND CLASS JAMES R. TURNER/U.S. NAVY)


The US Navy is going to cut two of their combat camera units by October. According to them, it was due to budget constraints. In fact last year they cut camera unit budgets by 60% before finally deciding to eliminate it completely. 

It's a casualty of the times. People used to have to climb inside jets on the decks of aircraft carriers to replace film in cameras for surveillance, a job now that satellites or drones can do. Soldiers can wear waterproof go-pros and deliver front of the lines action, eliminating the need for a specific person on the ground documenting what's happening. But is that a good thing? The Navy described it's combat camera units as: 

"The Navy COMCAM units include aircrew and diver qualified 
personnel to provide specialized day and night all-weather
aerial for fixed and rotary wing aircraft. They provide maritime 
operations and battle-space imagery acquisition and transmissions.
When not deployed, COMCAM units are under the
operational control of the Commander, US Fleet Forces
Command and Commander, US Pacific Fleet, respectively."

What I think they're missing out on is the artistry of photography. Contrary to popular belief art and war go hand in hand. When you think of Iwo Jima, what do you think of? The famous photo of the flag going up on Mount Suribachi. An image taken by an AP photographer who's eyes were determined to be too bad to join the Army. That image helped inspire moral and a nation. 

Gopros on the ground can provide an in the moment experience, but they're very rarely going to inspire. Thrill, yes, but it's not the same thing. Artists, create images like this:

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(US Bombers return to the aircraft carrier Yorktown after a dawn raid on Wake Island.
Photo by Lt. Cmdr. Charles Kerlee/Navy)

When you take images as just a form of data there's a danger that you're de-humanizing what's happening. Once you start doing that, the mission is a mission regardless of success, failure or casualties. We need to be reminded of our impact on this earth because it's something we can too easily forget. 

SOURCE: SCPR and NAVY TIMES