America’s wars take place far away — Kabul is 6,700 miles from New York or, traveling in the other direction, 7,400 miles from San Francisco. They also involve fewer and fewer Americans — the Army now has about 475,000 active-duty soldiers, the lowest number since World War II.
This leaves the Pentagon free to promote itself to a country that largely has no idea what war actually entails. In addition to standard TV advertising and flyovers at the Super Bowl, the U.S. military spends tens of millions of dollars each year on live events that function half as recruitment pitches and half as visceral plugs for its spectacular high-tech weaponry.
Photojournalist Nina Berman has spent 10 years traveling to Fleet Weeks and air shows to document the peculiar collision between the Pentagon’s idealized self-image and the people who pay for it but have little comprehension of what they’re truly buying.