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101st Airborne Division

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Each month in the Big Picture, we post a collection of photographs from Afghanistan.  They feature American forces and those of other countries, and they show us daily life among the Afghan people.  In June, President Obama declared that the United States had largely achieved its goals in Afghanistan, which set in motion an aggressive timetable for the withdrawal of American troops. However, the fighting has spiked in some regions of the country. On Aug. 6, the United States suffered its deadliest day in the nearly decade-long war when insurgents shot down a Chinook transport helicopter, killing 30 Americans and eight Afghans.  According to the United Nations, 360 Afghan civilians were killed in June alone.  The surges of violence reflect how deeply entrenched the insurgency remains even far from its strongholds. The war continues.  -- Paula Nelson (42 photos total)
Villager Juma Khan meets with the provincial district governor and fellow villagers at a shura, or consultation, on July 23 at the US Marine Patrol Base Salaam Bazaar in Helmand province, Afghanistan. As mentors with the international coalition attempt to phase out their involvement and put Afghan institutions in the lead, the Taliban continue to gain strength in many of Helmand's northern communities, where legitimate Afghan governance is more of a plan than a reality. (David Goldman/Associated Press)

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BLENDING IN BLENDING IN: Chinese artist Liu Bolin waited Wednesday for his colleagues to put a finishing touch on him to blend into rows of soft drinks in his artwork entitled ‘Plasticizer,’ in his studio in Beijing. (Associated Press)

AFTER THE RIOTS AFTER THE RIOTS: A couple drank at a boarded-up wine bar Wednesday in London following riots in the city. Prime Minister David Cameron said ‘We will do whatever is necessary to restore law and order on to our streets.’ (Toby Melville/Reuters)

BREAKING THE FAST BREAKING THE FAST: Impoverished Indian Muslims crowded outside a restaurant Wednesday to receive food handouts before breaking their Ramadan fast in New Delhi. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press)

TRUDGING ALONG TRUDGING ALONG: Primary school boys carried their desks Wednesday after their school flooded from heavy rains at Bassi Kalan village on the outskirts of Jammu, India. (Mukesh Gupta/Reuters)

HOMEWARD BOUND HOMEWARD BOUND: 1st Lt. Nikesh Kapadia, 24, center, with the U.S. Army’s 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, stood in the rain Wednesday while waiting to go through customs in Manas, Kyrgyzstan, on the way back to the U.S. after a deployment in Afghanistan. (David Goldman/Associated Press)

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This past month, much of the attention focused on Afghanistan centered on the release of thousands of classified documents from the war effort by WikiLeaks. While the consensus appears to be that nothing significantly new was revealed by the release, the picture painted by the documents remains rather bleak. NATO and the United States now have 143,000 troops in Afghanistan, set to peak at 150,000 in coming weeks as they take a counter-insurgency offensive into the insurgents' southern strongholds. Taliban control remains difficult to dislodge, and once removed from an area, Taliban forces often return once larger forces leave a region, especially in rural areas where local government presence remains small. Collected here are images of the country and conflict over the past month, part of an ongoing monthly series on Afghanistan. (47 photos total)
A U.S. Marine Corps F-18 Hornet aircraft prepares to refuel over Afghanistan July 8, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andy M. Kin/Released)

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Afghanistan - United States - Taliban - War in Afghanistan - NATO

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Pakistani rescue workers search for survivors in wreckage of a crashed passenger plane at The Margalla Hills on the outskirts of Islamabad on July 28, 2010. A Pakistani airliner carrying 152 people crashed in a ball of flames into densely wooded hills outside Islamabad amid heavy rain and poor visibility, killing everyone on board. Rescue [...]

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by Claire O'Neill

July 24, 2010

Listen to the Story

Weekend Edition Saturday

[4 min 22 sec]

 

The region around Kandahar city in Afghanistan is the Taliban's birthplace and breeding ground. That makes it a key location in the U.S. military's security efforts. But "securing" a region in which you can hardly distinguish friend from foe is far easier said than done. NPR staff photographer David Gilkey just returned from the region, where he spent time with the 101st Airborne Division. Their mission is two-fold: chase out the Taliban and win the trust of locals — if they can.

See more of Gilkey's coverage from Afghanistan.

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