Ever since Matthew Brady trekked to Civil War battlefields documenting war and warriors, photography has been a critical way of showing what the rest of us cannot—or choose not to—witness. The Pentagon itself has long acknowledged the importance of photographs, and it has hundreds of photographers, some in uniform and some not, taking thousands of pictures every day.
Beginning in 1960 the best have competed to be the Military Photographer of the Year. This year's contest included 3,500 entries submitted by 603 competitors.
In March, Colonel Jeremy M. Martin, who runs the Pentagon’s Defense Information School at Fort Meade, Md., announced the 2011 winners. A formal ceremony for the first-place winners in each category will be held on May 4. But in the meantime, LightBox looks at some of the powerful and harrowing images that were recognized this year.
To see more work, including winners of the year in video and graphics, take a look at the DINFOS awards website.