Why are these guys always using American imagery for their banner? You might have wondered (see above). The answer is simple: its not so easy to get good, publicly available shots from other armies and navies and air forces.
On the public affairs front — particularly in still imagery — America’s military is way ahead. And the Army is clearly leading the pack. Its Flickr photo stream has almost 5,000 images, some truly stunning shots among them. See our new banner (here’s the full image). Users can access all sizes, download high resolution, and make use of a simple creative commons license. Quite impressive, really.
The other services probably felt compelled to so something, too. The US Air Force has well over 1,000 photos on its Flickr photostream. Some great shots among them, but not quite on the Army’s level.
Even the US Navy, traditionally not as public affairs savvy as the other services, has a few images up there (a little more than 800). By the way: what happened to the Marines? After priding themselves for their in-bred public affairs skills after the Persian Gulf War (“every Marine is a PAO”), the Leathernecks seem to have lost some of their wit over the last few years?
Why do that anyway? Well, publishers, for instance, love to use these images as book covers or as illustrations for articles — here’s an example (.pdf). All sorts of webby people might use them. It’s good PR for the services, in short. And all armies have combat camera units. Most likely they have some great photographers among them (although I’d say it’s hard to beat some of those US Army combat cameramen, probably trained in Fort Meade). There’s clearly something to be gleaned from the Army here.
Why not make the images public? Operational security issues should not be a show-stopper. And we’re talking about public institutions here anyway, funded by taxpayers.
So, dear Public Affairs Officers in London, Paris, Berlin — and elsewhere, why not:
And: drop us a note.