These photos are so awful, we're not even mad — we're actually impressed

Mandatory Fun

Bad stock photos never hurt anyone, but they haven't done a lot of good either.

Sure, there are the occasional horrible stock images that perpetuate negative stereotypes about the U.S. military and veteran community, but those seem to be outliers. On the whole, they're just consistently bad in the same predictable, if not laughable, ways.

And look, it's tough to find that perfect shot. We get it, it's not like the Pentagon or subscription-based services and news wires have vast archives of images showing actual service members doing their jobs, wearing the proper uniforms, and conducting themselves in a way befitting of the service they're in. That'd be too easy. (On an unrelated note, check out DVIDS, the Associated Press, or Getty Images, among others if you're looking for photos of actual troops, doing actual "troop things.")

But sometimes a business, or ad agency, or political group, or misguided news site has to turn to stock photo archives for that one-in-a-million pic — or more than likely, the first one they see out of a sea of millions. And that's how you end up with gems like this:


Everything with that uniform is wrong.Screenshot via Veterans Legal Institute.

Pictures like the one above is why it's high time your fearless cyber sleuth returned to the bowels of online image databases looking for the crème de la crème of terrible military stock photos. If you're looking for our earlier round-ups, you can find Volume 1, and Volume 2, here.

Without further ado, here is your latest addition to our growing collection of the best of bad military stock photos. And yes, you're very welcome for my service.

So many questions; no good answers.

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Did he accidentally click on a video playing Reveille or Retreat? Was this the end of a very high-stakes video conference call with his commanding officer, presumably in a war zone, given all that PPE? Or did he just get the ass chewing of a life time from his old lady for skipping out on family time to go play air soft with the boys?

Nobody will ever know, but it's fun to speculate.

Also: Those elbow pads and that awkward-as-fuck salute. Lol.

And then I said: "Mr. President, 'Space ISIS' isn't a real thing."

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Accurately captioned "Happy senior veteran communicating on mobile phone while relaxing in his office with feet up on the table," this image could just as easily be a now-retired general kicking back at his house and regaling his also very retired general buddies with stories of his last day as a four-star.

That or he's reading the most recent news out of Afghanistan and saying "thank god I have my DD-214" just like the rest of us.

Join the Army: Become Jesus

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Have you ever dreamed of serving your country, and being a paragon of heavenly might at the same time? Based on this stock photo, military service appears to come with a side order of sainthood.

Why hello there, off-brand action hero man

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Nobody joins the military with the hope of being stuck on post anxiously waiting for some super secret squirrel operator to come creeping up behind you with a knife. No, we all want to be Metal Gear's Solid Snake, but that bar is a little too high, so sometimes you have to settle for the Safeway Select version.

On that note, discount Delta operator over here could use a refresher on weapons safety — that or he's about to have his first desk pop, given that his finger is on the trigger.

Looks legit to me

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Sometimes you come across a stock photo that's gets everything so spectacularly wrong that you have to pause and wonder: Is this a really good practical joke that I'm just not getting?

This is that photo. From the bizarre decision to use a Navy or Marine Corps' style eight-point cover with an Army camo-pattern from the late 2000s and early 2010s; to the belligerently rolled sleeves; and the final touch, saluting with the left hand — this is so bad it's practically a modern art masterpiece.


The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) underway on its own power for the first time while leaving Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia (USA), on April 8, 2017. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ridge Leoni)

Against a blistering 56 mph wind, an F/A-18F Super Hornet laden with fuel roared off the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford and into the brilliant January sky.

No glitches.

Chalk up another step forward for America's newest and most expensive warship.

The Ford has been at sea since Jan. 16, accompanied by Navy test pilots flying a variety of aircraft. They're taking off and landing on the ship's 5 acre flight deck, taking notes and gathering data that will prove valuable for generations of pilots to come.

The Navy calls it aircraft compatibility testing, and the process marks an important new chapter for a first-in-class ship that has seen its share of challenges.

"We're establishing the launch and recovery capabilities for the history of this class, which is pretty amazing," said Capt. J.J. "Yank" Cummings, the Ford's commanding officer. "The crew is extremely proud, and they recognize the historic context of this."

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Soldiers from the 1-118th Field Artillery Regiment of the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team fire an M777 Howitzer during a fire mission in Southern Afghanistan, June 10th, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jordan Trent)

Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)

Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.

Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.

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Audie Murphy (U.S. Army photo)

Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018

On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.

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A Purple Heart (DoD photo)

Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

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Ships from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23 transit the Pacific Ocean Jan. 22, 2020. DESRON 23, part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, is on a scheduled deployment to the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erick A. Parsons)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The Navy and Marine Corps need to be a bit more short-sighted when assessing how many ships they need, the acting Navy secretary said this week.

The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.

"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.

The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.

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