DIA artists completed this series of paintings during the Cold War when the Soviet Union posed the major threat to the security of the United States. The Agency commissioned these works of military art to illustrate publications and support official briefings. DIA analysts and artists worked closely to achieve an accurate portrayal of the military system being illustrated. The artwork often depicted classified photography or imagery that could not be used in its original form. Many of these paintings were classified and have only recently been declassified.
The artists worked as visual information specialists in the Illustrations Department of DIA, located in the "B" Building of Arlington Hall Station, Virginia during the first two decades of the Agency's existence. By the early-1980's, DIA employed as many as five artist to perform this unique function.
Computer-generated graphics have replaced this kind of illustrative art since the late 1980s. Edward Cooper is the only one of the original visual information specialists still employed at the Agency. He continues to work in the graphics office at DIA, but now sits at a computer rather than at a drawing table. The other artists have long since retired or moved on. Some including Cooper, continue to paint in their free time or retirement.