The photos we selected for the best US military photos of 2017 embody not just military might, but human spirit. From the desert to the ocean to the stars, these photos capture moments of extreme determination, perseverance, ingenuity, love, and beauty.
US Army Reserve Sniper, Photo Courtesy of US Army
Stealth is an integral part of nearly all US armed forces special operations. A sniper, especially, depends on the ability to stay hidden. This photo depicts a US Army Reserve sniper and infantry soldier doing some serious training. Even if you're not out on the battlefield, you have to practice like you are. However, there was no real danger when this photo was taken at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey on July 26th.
Korean Marine Exchange Program, Photo by Cpl. Aaron S. Patterson
The vibrant colors and vivid expression in this action shot make this Marine Corps photo one of the best US military photos of 2017. 1st Lt. Harry J.D. Walker yells to his fellow fighters during a battle simulation in South Korea on August 11th. The fierceness and hard work are almost tangible.
USS Gerald R. Ford Aircraft Carrier, Photo Courtesy of US Navy
It is true that active United States soldiers have to deal with terrible and bloody sights and experiences, but they also get to see the world as they travel from location to location. This photo shows the USS Gerald R. Ford Aircraft Carrier making its way across the Atlantic Ocean on the night of December 13, beneath a blanket of stars. The open ocean and the bejeweled sky are just sublime.
Capt. Gregory Veteto Celebrates New Baby, Photo Courtesy of US Marine Corps
The military is not just one giant mechanical force. It is made up of individuals who carry with them their own personal hopes, achievements, memories, and loved ones. That is what we see here in this photo of Marine Corps Captain Gregory Veteto, who shares the news of his baby girl with his battalion.
His wife had apparently sent him a football containing a certain color powder—blue for boy or pink for girl—so he could kick it open and discover the sex of his baby. This action shot depicts Captain Veteto punting the football on November 1st, and the collective excitement of his fellow men. This is one of the best US military photos of 2017 because it embraces the hope of new life and love.
Crew Chief of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 167, Photo Courtesy of Lance Cpl. Anthony J. Brosilow
Special operations air missions can be just as intense as missions on the ground. This photo was taken during a training session, but the view is no less real. This crew chief is training for his assignment with the Marine Light Attack Helicopter at the Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue in North Carolina. The March 9th photo is just as stunning as it is serious.
USS Porter Strike Against Syria, Photo Courtesy of Ford Williams of the US Navy
One of the best US military photos of 2017 was taken during a real air strike. As the American flag flies, there is a US Navy guided-missile shooting toward Syria. The US airstrikes against Syria this summer were highly controversial, as the destroyers aimed at ISIS also ended up killing hundreds of civilians.
This photo captures the the inherent moral contradiction everyone in the United States military has to deal with: For the supposed well-being of our country and freedom, taking out the enemy also often results in taking out the innocent. This image symbolizes those conflicting ideas and emotions.
The USS Nimitz, USS Ronald Reagan, USS Theodore Roosevelt Aircraft Carriers, Photo Courtesy of US Navy
This US Navy photo makes you realize just how expansive the country's military presence is. These heavy duty aircraft carriers appear to glide gracefully across the Pacific Ocean as they prepare for wartime scenarios. The ocean looks deep and endless, much like the perceived power of the military.
USS Makin Island, Photo Courtesy of US Navy
This is a gorgeous image even if you didn't know the subject is the USS Makin Island assault ship. The near-absolute darkness of night contrasts beautifully with the lights emitted by the ship, making it look like the Northern Lights have appeared underwater. This interaction between light and dark on the Arabian Sea makes this picture one of the best US military photos of 2017.
Staff Sgt. Caesar, Photo Courtesy of US Marine Corps
Humans depend on service dogs for almost everything—therapy, bomb detection, disability service, etc. That is why it is so important that we honor man's best friends and their presence in the United States military.
Meet the fully decorated military working dog, Staff Sgt. Caesar! He visited a K9 military training facility in California this June to check in on his troops and give them something to smile for. We salute you, Sarge.
Sailors' Snow Angels, Photo Courtesy of US Navy
There is nothing like the feeling of returning home. After giving their all on their naval tour, these US sailors celebrate their safe return home by enjoying the newly fallen snow on the flight deck of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. Even the most serious, dedicated, and forceful members of the military need to act like kids every once in a while. This is one of the best US military photos of 2017 because of the simple, yet immense joy it conveys.