U.S. Navy Lt. j.g. Matthew Stroup is a public affairs officer assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Farah in western Afghanistan. After learning that he would deploy without the team’s combat cameraman, he picked up a camera and started to shoot without the benefit of formal training.
“Our mission as a PRT supports the governance and development effort in Afghanistan, so it’s much different, but no less important, than the hard work done on the security side of the house. I’d never picked up a camera before, but I knew that in order to effectively tell our team’s story, we’d have to have imagery. I was fortunate to have had some great COMCAM Chiefs share their experiences with me before I deployed here, and to have had a great Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman who’s an accomplished hobby photographer who helped me out.”
The PRT in Farah is a joint, interagency team that combines a Navy staff, Army security force and civil affairs teams and team members from the Dept. of State, USAID and USDA. Collectively they work together to train, advise and assist provincial and district leaders to bring relevant services and stability to the province.
In addition to shooting photos, Stroup filled a traditional public affairs officer billet as the team’s conduit to wider audiences and also worked directly with local leaders and communicators to help build local photojournalism, media and radio capacity.