The Democratic Republic of Congo: 2013 - D.R.C. - F.A.R.D.C.
In Rwindi, a Savanna located in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the F.A.R.D.C. (military of the D.R.C.) occupy a Mobutu era defunct safari hotel, called Hotel Invest. In 2012, with the permission of several F.A.R.D.C. colonels, I spent ten days at and around this decrepit hotel, documenting the daily lives of soldiers during a lull in fighting the M23 rebel forces.
I aimed to photograph with no intentions of glorifying or criticizing what is generally perceived to be a corrupt brute force, allegedly composed of delinquents who often join to possess a weapon and take things at will from the population. While this might be true in some cases, while at Rwindi I learned F.A.R.D.C. soldiers regularly go months without pay, often relying on the food and shelter of civilian populations, located near their shoddily constructed remote outposts, to survive. I met a cross section of the F.A.R.D.C., from educated Commanders and Colonels to privates who grew up in remote villages with little to no education. It was interesting to observe the privates when they were around their superiors, and vice versa.
I spent days walking around the base, spending time with the F.A.R.D.C. as they polished their boots, practiced drills, went to church and played board games. I encountered several drunkards and troubled soldiers (while I was there a man killed his wife, who had slept with another soldier, then killed himself), but they seemed by far the minority. The F.A.R.D.C. base at Hotel Invest might be a special case, with more closely watched soldiers and better than average organization and management, but it does represent a certain potential of what the entire F.A.R.D.C. might be or one day become.