Next guest post is by Joe Blount (www.theonejoe.com) about his deployment in Afghanistan (click on images for larger view):
In October of 2009 I deployed to the Helmand Province, Afghanistan as a machine gunner in a Security Company. We provided security to Combat Engineers who were building and repairing roads and convoy security from base to base. Our missions ranged in time length from overnight to weeks at a time on average, with the longest being a month long mission.
During the deployment I purchased a Nikon D5000 with the 18-55mm Nikkor kit lens as well as the 55-200mm Nikkor in December of 2009 as a present to myself. I used parachute cord to secure my small camera bag in the turret with me. In the bag I packed the camera body, the two lenses, two batteries and charger. Fortunately there was room for the manual because it was my first DSLR. The camera stayed right by my side next to where my M4 service rifle was mounted. I used the 12v power in the truck to charge my batteries.
I bought the camera with the intention of documenting my own experience in Afghanistan and to photograph our life as Marines on base, the missions and the locals. Helmand Province is located in the southwest of Afghanistan and is comprised of open deserts, farmers in small villages with lush farm land and markets in the larger cities. The camera experienced both sides of the temperature spectrum with highs over 110 Fahrenheit to lows in the teens as well as sandstorms and what we lovingly refer to as moon dust. Imagine 3-4 inches of dust with the consistency of flour and you have moon dust. It stays in the air and sticks to everything.
From December 2009 to April of 2010 I took roughly 12,000 photos without any problems during my deployment. Nikon did not design the D5000 with surviving the harsh environment of a place like Afghanistan in mind. Since it's purchase in December I have over 49,000 shutter actuation. The Nikon D5000 is said to have a shutter life of at least 100,000 and I believe it. The best camera to have is the one you have with you and my D5000 goes everywhere with me. I know I can always count on it to produce great images."