Afghanistan, seen through a Humvee window
As the venerable Humvee is replaced by the M-ATV, photojournalist Chris Hondros keeps photographing Afghanistan through the windows of military transports.
Spc. Clinton Eaton of Albuquerque, N.M., and the Army's 82nd Airborne Division reads a book during a break at Patrol Base Machine in Herat Province, Afghanistan, on June 24. Most of the pictures in this slideshow were made from inside Humvees, which have served as the primary ground transport for U.S. troops starting in the 1980s, or newer M-ATV vehicles.
Afghan schoolgirls seen through the window of a Humvee wave to a passing American convoy June 26 in downtown Herat. Historic Herat, one of Afghanistan's largest cities, is bustling these days and is considered safe by American and Italian troops tasked with securing the region. They say they've mostly seen attacks in rural areas of the province.
A decorated motorcycle taxi is seen through the window of a Humvee on June 26 in downtown Herat. Photojournalist Chris Hondros told msnbc.com via an email from Afghanistan: "I've long been fascinated by the view through the window of a Humvee as it rolls through the cities or deserts of Afghanistan and Iraq."
Pedestrians walk on the side of the road on June 26 in Herat. Photographer Chris Hondros: "The view affords a paradoxical kind of intimacy; even rural Afghans are inured by now by the sight of big American armored vehicles moving through their midst, often barely looking up while they rumble by. So for a journalist, it's a unique opportunity to observe something much harder to witness while out in the open: Afghans going about their mundane, day-to-day lives. It's a precious window on a world that remains opaque and mysterious to most Americans."
Goats and sheep graze in a field June 26 in the village of Deh Moghol, Afghanistan. The 4th Brigage of the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division has been working for nearly a year in Herat province, a historic crossroads near the Iranian and Turkmenistan borders.
An Afghan man rides a donkey June 22 in the Khushi Khona area of Herat Province. In Chris Hondros' recent experience, the U.S. military is using vehicles largely to get from point to point, but not for patrols. "American forces aren't often in any type of vehicle nowadays: engaging the populace face-to-face is an important part of the counterinsurgency philosophy espoused by General Petraeus, so there are a lot more walking patrols that leave the vehicles on base altogether."
Local transport: Afghanistan National Army soldiers in a pickup truck prepare to go on patrol with the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division June 29 in Bala Murghab.
Spc. Franky Cava of McDonough, Ga., and the 82nd Airborne Division sits in the passenger seat of a Humvee on Patrol Base Machine at sundown June 24 in Herat Province. It could be the end of an era for Humvees, as Hondros notes: "The Humvees are liked for old time's sake but most troops realize their days have passed."
A soldier in the 1-71 Cavalry of the 10th Mountain Division walks down the hood of an M-ATV vehicle, the heavily-armored successor to the Humvee, on June 15 at Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The M-ATV and other mine-resistant vehicles have almost completely replaced the venerable Humvee for transporting American forces in Afghanistan, using innovations like thicker, irregularly-shaped windows to help protect troops from deadly roadside bombs and other explosions.
A line of small motorized taxis is seen through the window of a M-ATV vehicle. Getty Images photojournalist Chris Hondros is not a big fan of the M-ATV as a photography platform: "I started shooting through the windows of MAT-Vs, too, but it's much harder, as the windows are smaller, thicker, sit higher on the vehicle and are irregularly shaped."
A butcher shop in Kandahar. This M-ATV window is a least easier to shoot through than an MRAP's, and (far more importantly) the M-ATV has advantages for the troops, according to Hondros: "The troops like the M-ATVs, generally - they're well-designed and incredibly tough against roadside bombs. Another, larger vehicle called the MRAP is less popular; though also tough, its hulking mass is hard to navigate around Afghanistan's pitted dirt roads. I don't like them either, as MRAP windows are covered by horizontal steel slats, making my little photo project impossible."
A local goods truck in Kandahar.
A man walks by construction material shops in Kandahar.
A guard tower and the earthen wall of a military base are seen through the window of a M-ATV vehicle. One last note from photographer Chris Hondros, on the decline of the venerable Humvee: "My beloved Humvees are becoming an endanged vehicular species in Afghanistan; when I was embedded near Kandahar earlier in the month, they had no Humvees at all. But here in the northwest, where I am now, the rough-and-ready 82nd Airborne are still using them sometimes, so I've been able to continue my project."