Crossing the River Near Delaram
When people ask me what it's like going on a patrol, I usually remark about the strange slowness of the movement, and the almost surreal normalcy of it all. If the weapons were absent, it'd look like a casual walk in the desert or about town (until something happens to disrupt that walk about, of course).
What a strange feeling it is, to be so exposed, and yet to move do deliberately, all the while under the potential eye of the enemy. That exposure is made more stark by the vast expanses of the open desert. The watercolor sketch above portrays the feeling of stark beauty of the desert in Afghanistan, especially when there's a river there. It also addresses the lonely nature of walking around on a patrol, even if you've got a whole squad with you.The sketch above is a watercolor I did while I was in Afghanistan, and it's of a Marine from 2/3, on a patrol near Delaram. He's against a wall, being watchful during a pause in the patrol. He doesn't seem particularly excited-- minus the weapon and gear, he could be any youth hanging out on the street.
But the calm demeanor belies the inner awareness of a person who's gotten used to this kind of casual readiness. Though relaxed, he is poised to respond should it be required of him. He can't afford to be complacent, because a firefight could come at any moment. But he can't maintain a constant state of hyper-alertness, or he'll burn out.
I'm sure someone could do a doctoral thesis on this phenomenon in human nature.