65 Beautiful Photos Of The US Military In 2012

us army best photos 2012, parachutes thumb

Photo: U.S. Army

This was a year to remember for the U.S. Military.After years of combat, some 23,000 troops serving in Afghanistan were pulled out in 2012, with plans to withdraw the rest by 2014.

The U.S. Military also carried out countless of military and rescue operations, and continued to improve its forces through rigorous training.

We found some absolutely stunning photos taken by U.S. Army staff over this year that captured close-ups of military missions, trainings and the life of the American soldier.

Soldiers from the 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, lean against a mud wall during a break from combat operations in Spin Boldak district, Afghanistan. From Fort Hood, Texas, the Soldiers have been in Afghanistan since July in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (January 9, 2012 - Photo by Spc. Crystal Davis)

Army Reserve Soldiers render final honours at a Fallen Warrior ceremony at Fort Bragg, N.C., Jan. 10, 2012. The command's Soldiers and civilian employees honored seven Army Reserve Soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan. (January 10, 2012 - Photo by Timothy Hale)

Spc. Gerald Schumacher, of 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, climbs a mountain, Jan. 11, 2012, in Watapur district, Kunar Province, Afghanistan. (January 10, 2012 - Photo by Sgt. Trey Harvey)

Medics with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team, retrieve notionally wounded paratroopers from a Black Hawk medevac helicopter operated by the 101st Airborne Division's 159th Brigade, Jan. 23, 2012, at the Joint Readiness Training centre, Fort Polk, La. Soldiers are only allowed to approach an operating helicopter in the company of a crew chief. (January 23, 2012 - Photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

Pallets of supplies land in the snow-covered ground during an airdrop in Shah Joy district, Zabul province, Afghanistan, Jan. 25, 2012. Supply drops are a common way to resupply coalition special operations forces in remote areas of Afghanistan. (January 25, 2012 - Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jon Rasmussen)

A Soldier from the 56th Engineer Company walks the Tanana River's frozen surface during an ice-bridge construction project, Jan. 25, 2012, near Fort Wainwright, Alaska. (January 25, 2012 - Photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Winstead)

Cpl. William Hopkins, a native of Clovis, Calif., a spotter with Company F, 2nd Aviation Assault Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade's Pathfinders, looks through the scope of the Barrett .50-calibre sniper rifle while Sgt. Lucas Cordes, a native of Hillman, Mich., a sniper team leader with Co. F, 282 CAB, waits for the Uh-60 Black Hawk to turn around so they can commence an aerial firing platform exercise, Jan. 26, 2012, in Logar Province, Afghanistan. (January 26, 2012 - Photo by Spc. Cody Barber)

Pfc. Cory Miller, I Battery, 1st Squadron, 11th armoured Cavalry Regiment, fires the FIM-92 Stinger missile at the MQM-170 Outlaw drone plane. The FIM-92 Stinger is a personal portable infrared homing surface-to-air missile. (January 31, 2012 - Photo by Casey Slusser)

Officers with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team, complete a team obstacle course, Feb. 3, 2012, at Fort Bragg, N.C., during a Prop Blast, a traditional rite-of-passage for officers new to the division. During this phase of the event, teams must move the tire and a simulated casualty down a muddy slope, across a muddy slough, and up the other side. (February 3, 2012 - Photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

Sgt. Aaron Sweeny and Staff Sgt. Robert Novak, both with 3rd Platoon, Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, Task Force Spartan, watch explosions from a mountain top near Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan, during a call-for-fire exercise, Feb. 3, 2012. (Photo by Spc. Ken Scar)

Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, and Canadian soldiers with 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, fill the cargo area of a U.S. Air Force Globemaster III aircraft during an in-flight rigging mission during a joint operational access exercise at Pope Field, N.C., Feb. 9, 2012. A JOAX is a joint airdrop exercise designed to enhance service cohesiveness between U.S. Army and Air Force personnel, allowing both services an opportunity to properly execute large-scale heavy equipment and troop movement. (February 9, 2012 - Photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Andy M. Kin)

Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Joyce, of Lynn, Mass., a career counselor with Task Force Poseidon, shields his face from the blowing snow and rotor wash caused by a UH-60 Black Hawk landing nearby, in Parwan Province, Afghanistan. (February 10, 2012 - Photo by Sgt. Trey Harvey)

Rangers from 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, as part of a combined Afghan and coalition security force operating in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, await a CH-47 for extraction. (February 13, 2012 - Photo by Pfc. Pedro Amador)

Pvt. Alex Hernandez (front) and Spc. Justin Huser, both from Ghost Company, 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany, fire their M240 machine gun during a Fire Team and Squad level Situational Training Exercise focused on react to contact, attack, and break contact in the Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany. (February 23, 2012 - Photo by Visual Information Specialist Markus Rauchenberger)

Members of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, come in for a dust landing with Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 25th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, during an air assault training mission led by the Kandahar Air Wing and Afghan National Army in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, Feb. 29, 2012. (February 29, 2012 - Photo by Sgt. Daniel Schroeder)

Soldiers from the 44th Medical Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps, are greeted by family and friends as they return from a year-long deployment in Afghanistan to Fort Bragg, N.C., March 1, 2012. (March 2, 2012 - Photo by Sgt. Jessica M. Kuhn)

Capt. Michael Stackhouse, of Lima, Ohio, and 1st Sgt. Christopher Roche, of Alexandria, Va., both with the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Saber, place gold combat spurs on the feet of Saber Troopers, March 2, 2012. Gold combat spurs are presented to troopers serving more than 30 days in a combat zone with a cavalry unit -- a tradition beginning in the Civil War. (March 2, 2012 - Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Eric Pahon )

An OH-58D Kiowa Warrior from Task Force Saber, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, fires a 2.75-inch rocket at a mountainside during a test flight in eastern Afghanistan, March 2, 2012. The Kiowa warrior is the Army's scout and reconnaissance aircraft, which often provides close support for ground troops on the battlefield. TF Saber's Kiowas lead the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, which has flown more than 65,000 hours across all airframes since October 2011. (March 2, 2012 - Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Eric Pahon)

Soldiers from U.S. Army Reserve Command headquarters climb an obstacle during a noncommissioned officer professional development event at Fort Bragg, N.C., March 16, 2012. The Soldiers negotiated the obstacles and provided teamwork when necessary to complete each station. (March 16, 2012 - Photo by Timothy L. Hale)

Pvt. Vincent Redondo, I Company, 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany, lays out barbed wire during a Situational Training Exercise in the Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, March 22, 2012. (March 22, 2012 - Photo by Markus Rauchenberger)

Sgt. Nathan McLaughlin, a standardization instructor from C Company, 1-171 Medevac, Utah Army National Guard, from West Jordan, Utah, rescues a lost hiker, Staff Sgt. Christian Larsen, a medic from C Company, 1-171 Medevac, Utah Army National Guard, West Jordan, Utah, during a search and rescue training exercise, on Camp W.G. Williams in Riverton, Utah, April 3, 2012. (April 3, 2012 - Photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Dennis Henry)

Sgt. Michael Trevino, personal security detail, noncomissioned officer, 172nd Infantry Brigade, utilizes a foot bridge to cross a swollen river outside of the village of Marzak while locals wash clothing on the far bank. Marzak has historically been a stronghold for the insurgency over the past decade until the Afghan and U.S forces took advantage of the winter months to establish a local police force at the request of the elders and secure the village from foreign fighters who transit the area during the fighting season. (April 4, 2012 - Photo by Staff Sgt. Charles Crail)

A UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter flys to Forward Operating Base Torkham, March 28, 2012, in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. (April 6, 2012 - Photo by U.S. Army)

Army National Guard Spc. Timothy Shout, a native of Austin, Texas, scans the nearby ridgeline along with other members of the Provincial Reconstruction Team Kunar Security Force element, in Afghanistan, following an engagement with anti-Afghan forces. Shout is deployed from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 143rd Infantry (Airborne), out of Austin, Texas. The unit took small-arms fire from a nearby mountain top during a routine patrol, and was able to suppress the enemy with the assistance of local Afghan National Security Forces. (April 19, 2012 - Photo by Tech. Sgt. Christopher Marasky)

Sgt. Joshua Smith, a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team, chats with an Afghan boy during an Afghan-led clearing operation, April 28, 2012, in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. The Soldier studied the Pashtun language prior to his deployment to southern Ghazni. (April 28, 2012 - Photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Norma Garza, a pilot assigned to 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, conducts a pre-flight inspection on a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter as the sun rises, May 2, 2012. (May 2, 2012 - Photo by Staff Sgt. Joe Armas)

A Soldier transforms 7-year-old Kayiah into a camouflaged Army Ranger at the 6th Ranger Training Battalion's annual open house on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., May 12, 2012. The event enabled the public to learn how Rangers train and operate, showing dive equipment, weapons, a reptile zoo and zodiac boats. (May 12, 2012 - Photo by Air Force Samuel King Jr.)

Pvt. Richard Mitchell, Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, visits with children of a village in northern Qalat, Afghanistan, May 16, 2012. The children of the village received humanitarian aid from the PRT during the U.S. and Romanian's visit to assess security and irrigation in the village. (May 16, 2012 - Photo by Air Force Senior Airman Joshua Turner)

A paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team, provides overwatch security to fellow paratroopers and Afghan National Security Forces after a firefight, May 17, 2012, in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. The agricultural areas surrounding Combat Outpost Giro are a haven for insurgent activities. (May 17, 2012 - Photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

Dust lights up the rotors of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter as paratroopers with 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, load for an air assault mission near Combat Outpost Ab Band, May 23, 2012, in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. The unit is part of the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team, which deployed to the area in March to help bring security to the areas along the country's main road between Kabul and Kandahar. (May 23, 2012 - Photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

A U.S. Soldier with Hawk Company, 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, takes cover in high grass at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany, May 24, 2012, while conducting company external evaluations. The evaluations assessed the company's troop-leading procedures and combined arms abilities. (May 24, 2012 - Photo by Gertrud Zach)

Class of 2012 cadets from the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., toss their hats. (May 26, 2012 - Photo by Tommy Gilligan)

Pfc. Chris Kunze, a cannon crewmember assigned to A Battery, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 377th Field Artillery, Task Force Spartan, relaxes with his military working dog in Khoni Ghar, Afghanistan, May 27, 2012. (Photo by Spc. Kimberly Trumbull)

A paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team, armed with an M-14 Enhanced Battle Rifle, pulls security, June 4, 2012, in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. His unit, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, is conducting a three-day, clear-and-sweep operation in a remote mountain village suspected of being an insurgent stronghold. (June 4, 2012 - Photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

Nebraska National Guard crewmembers of Company C, 2nd-135th General Support Aviation Battalion, dump water from a 'Bambi Bucket' onto flames of the High Park fire, in Larimer County, Colo., approximately 15 miles west of Fort Collins, Colo., June 18, 2012. (June 6, 2012 - Photo by Staff Sgt. Tate Petersen)

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, provide suppressive fire on a target during a training exercise at Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, June 6, 2012, as part of the Theatre Security Cooperation Program. Blank and live-fire exercises are a critical part of infantry training, allowing Soldiers to practice infantry tactics in realistic scenarios. (June 6, 2012 - Photo by U.S. Army)

Coba, a 3-year-old chocolate lab and tactical explosives detector dog, chews contently on a tennis ball as David Sheffer, her handler and a dog trainer with Vohne Liche Kennels in Denver, Ind., explains the capabilities of the dog June 14, 2012, at the National Training centre on Fort Irwin, Calif., during a demonstration of Coba's abilities for 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division Soldiers, role players and government civilians. Sheffer spent June 5-15, 2012, escorting Coba to various companies and platoons across the brigade, which will soon select 25 handlers for training to lead a similar dog in Afghanistan when they deploy later this fall. (June 14, 2012 - Photo by Sgt. Christopher M. Gaylord)

Spc. Tyler Winowiecki, an infantryman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, cleans the dust off his M-4 carbine during Operation Buffalo Thunder II, in the district of Shorabak, Afghanistan, June 28, 2012. During the eight-day mission, Afghan and American forces cleared more than 120 kilometers of rugged terrain and escorted approximately 60 truckloads of humanitarian aid for distribution to the people of Shorabak. (June 28, 2012 - Photo by Staff Sgt. Brendan Mackie)

On July 5, 2012, Spc. Edward Marshall of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), walked his last walk as a Sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, Va. Marshall is one of only 602 Soldiers to have earned the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guard Identification Badge. A Soldier has guarded the Tomb 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, for the last 75 years. (July 5, 2012 - Photo by U.S. Army)

Staff Sgt. Chris Clark and Sgt. 1st Class Brian Sealing, both with the U.S. Army Golden Knights Black Demonstration Team, fly side-by-side over the Chicago Air and Water Show, July 9, 2012. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Dan Cook)

Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Rios, a corrections specialist with Bravo Company, Regional Training centre-East, plots his first point during the night land navigation event at the 2012 U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition at Fort McCoy, Wis., July 17, 2012. Rios, from South Ozone Park, N.Y., is representing the 84th Training Command at the competition. This year's Best Warrior competition will determine the top noncommissioned officer and junior enlisted Soldier who will represent the Army Reserve in the Department of the Army Best Warrior competition in October at Fort Lee, Va. (July 17, 2012 - Photo by Timothy Hale)

Pvt. Zakery Jenkins, front, with Charlie Troop, 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, provides security in Mush Kahel village, Ghazni province, Afghanistan, July 23, 2012. (Photo by Spc. Andrew Baker)

Soldiers with Charlie Troop, 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, leave a house in Pana village, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, July 24, 2012. (Photo by Spc. Andrew Baker)

UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters airlift 105-mm howitzers to a predetermined area on Fort Drum, N.Y., July 18, 2012. The Soldiers are assigned to 1st Battalion, 258th Field Artillery. The helicopter crew is assigned to Army Aviation Support Facility 3, in Latham, N.Y. (July 31, 2012 - Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Steven Petibone)

Jamie grey, wife of U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit shooter Staff Sgt. Hank grey, bites her Olympic gold medal after winning the women's 50-meter rifle 3-positions event, Aug. 4, 2012, at the Royal Artillery Barracks range in London. Bronze medalist Daria Vdovina of Russia stands beside grey, who established Olympic records in both qualification (592) and final (691.9) of the event, which includes shooting from prone, standing and kneeling positions. (August 4, 2012 - Photo by Tim Hipps)

Sgt. 1st Class Jon Benedict embraces his daughters after landing in Fargo, N.D., Aug. 17, 2012, at the old terminal of Hector International Airport. About 160 North Dakota Army National Guard Soldiers with the 188th Engineer Company (Vertical), mobilized in August 2011. The Guardsmen completed more than 150 construction projects in Kuwait and helped with the drawdown from Iraq. (August 17, 2012 - Photo by Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp)

Sgt. Lee Savoy, with the 256th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, Louisiana National Guard, evacuates a child, Aug. 30, 2012, from the flood waters caused by Hurricane Isaac. (August 30, 2012 - Photo by Megan Garcia)

President Barack Obama greets Soldiers during a visit to Fort Bliss, Texas, Aug. 31, 2012. (August 31, 2012 - Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley)

Far from the typical college career fair, Branch Week at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., afforded many opportunities for the Corps of Cadets to learn about the profession of arms from Soldiers representing 16 Army branches. Static displays were dwarfed by several hundred tons of vehicles, equipment and weapons systems. (Above) Seen through a pilot's helmet, a group of cadets learn more about the Aviation branch and get an inside look at a UH-60L Black Hawk. (September 10, 2012 - Photo by Mike Strasser)

Sgt. Jon Garcia (right), from Santa Cruz, Calif., and a rappel master at the Fort Hood Air Assault School, gives a student the sign to execute the rappel out of a UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter from A Company 'Werewolves,' 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, during the Fort Hood, Texas, Air Assault School's repel training, Sept. 14, 2012. Pilots and crews of the Werewolves flew out in support of Fort Hood's Air Assault School in order to certify pilots and crews, and to also support the school's training of their students. (September 14, 2012 - Photo by Sgt. Richard Wrigley)

Spc. Geoffery Lovan, with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, fires a M240L Medium Machine Gun, Sept. 19, 2012, at Pohakuloa Training Area, on Hawaii's Big Island. Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, are conducting a month-long exercise at PTA, which is focused on platoon level collective training with enabler integration. The training will culminate in a combined arms live-fire exercise later this month. (September 19, 2012 - Photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth)

A Soldier from the Michigan National Guard is welcomed home by his daughter after a year-long tour in Afghanistan, Sept. 28, 2012. (September 26, 2012 - Photo by Staff Sgt. Helen Miller)

Command Sgt. Maj. David Inglis, 3rd Infantry Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion command sergeant major, wears a protective suit and is attacked by a military working dog during a demonstration of the dogs' abilities at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Sept. 29, 2012. The military working dogs, from 3rd Infantry Division's K-9 unit, are used for various purposes including sniffing for explosive residue and protect military personnel. (September 29, 2012 - Photo by Sgt. Ashley Curtis)

Soldiers of the personal security detachment for the commander and command sergeant major of the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, receive a briefing in a bunker at Combat Outpost Khenjakak, Afghanistan, Nov. 9, 2012. (Photo by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth)

Capt. Jefferson Mason, left, serves Thanksgiving dinner to a Soldier on Joint Combat Outpost Mushan, Afghanistan, Nov. 22, 2012. Mason commands the 2nd Infantry Division's 38th Engineer Company, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team. (November 22, 2012 - Photo by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth)

The M982 Excalibur 155mm round leaves the barrel of an M777 Howitzer during a live-fire shoot conducted by Soldiers of the 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st armoured Division, at Oro Grande Range Complex, N.M., Dec. 5,2012. The training shoot was the first of its kind conducted outside of the National Training centre, Fort Irwin, Calif., or in combat downrange. (December 5, 2012 - Photo by Sgt. Sean Harriman)

Spc. Lyle Yantz and several other service members participating in Operation Proper Exit are greeted at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, after arrival, Dec. 6, 2012. Operation Proper Exit brings severely wounded service members back to the theatre where they sustained their injuries to provide a first-hand progress update on the continuing mission and to help in the healing process. Yantz is from Sedalia, Mo. (December 6, 2012 - Photo by Staff Sgt. Brendan Mackie)

Class of 2014 Cadet Mackenzie Vaughn, a civil engineering major, runs solo while her teammates conserve their energy for their shifts in the 150-mile journey from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., to Philadelphia. (December 7, 2012 - Photo by Mike Strasser)

Paratroopers walk to the meeting point as fellow Soldiers, Airmen and partner nation jumpers make their final decent in support of the 5th Quartermaster's Operation Toy Drop. The paratroopers jumped into the Alzey Drop Zone, Alzey, Germany, and donated gifts to needy children within the Kaiserslautern Military Community, Dec. 13, 2012. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Warren W. Wright Jr.)

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.