Fort Riley, Kansas



One-man shop takes photos for promotable Soldiers

By Kalene Lozick | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | January 29, 2018

    It is just for Soldiers, said Peter Aiken, visual information specialist at Fort Riley’s Visual Information Support Center operated by the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security. The Visual Information Support Center provides photo services to Soldiers who need a Department of the Army photo and command team mugshots.

     “When I started working here 22 years ago,” Aiken said. “We had more people, about seven people. We had about four graphic illustrators. With all the drawbacks and force reductions we are down to me — a supervisor and me.”

      He said his primary job now is taking DA photos and command photos for Soldiers across Fort Riley.

     “A DA photo is a Soldier’s photo they need for their records,” Aiken said. “(Staff sergeant) and above for enlisted need them for their records (along with) officers, first lieutenant and above; Chief Warrant Officers 2 and above (will also need photos for their records). Enlisted (sergeant) and below don’t need DA photos for their records; that is Army regulations.”

      Aiken said the photos are in a Soldier’s folder for numerous reasons. The first and most common is for promotion boards.

     “The photos are in their files for numerous reason — number one (is) promotion boards,” he said. “When a (staff sergeant) is going up for the promotion board to a (sergeant first class) they have to have a photo in their file. That shows who they are. It is kind of like a hand-shake, an introduction. When the board looks at their records the first thing they are going to see is their picture.”

      He said photos are a quick way to get an idea of who the Soldier is and to make sure everything in their record matches the uniform.

     According to and a printed version of the information in Aiken's office, DA photos show Soldiers dressed in their Army Service Uniform standing at a relaxed attention with their uniform decorated in an array of unit citations, ribbons, metals and cords. Due to each Soldier having a specialized Army career, DA photos are a way to showcase their achievements to the promotion board.

     Unit citations, Aiken said is usually a question mark because he tells Soldiers they must be awarded to them during the years of their service.

     “Lots of time when a Soldier comes to a unit, the unit says these are the unit citations that we wear based on what was awarded to us over the years,” he said. “For a DA photo, unless you were in the unit when the unit citation was awarded to that unit, you do not wear it.” Command team photos — the ones seen posted across the installation — are also taken by Aiken.

     “A command photo is a (mugshot) you see when you walk into headquarters and see the officer’s photos up on the wall,” Aiken said. “I do those here too. So when you see (Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Martin, 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley commanding general) photo, he came down here to get his photo taken. It then gets submitted throughout the installation.”

     For Soldiers looking at promotion boards this year, he said schedule an appointment three months in advanced because January through June are busy months for this one-man show.

     “Soldiers log onto to fill out an online form and to schedule an appointment … once the appointment is made by the Soldier, it will pop up on my end to log it into the system and put into the calendar,” he said. Aiken said he generally does DA photos Monday through Thursday and command photos on Friday with some exceptions.