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Air Assault Brigade

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Another year has come and gone and with it hundreds of thousands of images have recorded the world's evolving history; moments in individual lives; the weather and it's affects on the planet; acts of humanity and tragedies brought by man and by nature. The following is a compilation - not meant to be comprehensive in any way - of images from the first 4 months of 2012. Parts II and III to follow this week. -- Paula Nelson ( 64 photos total)
Fireworks light up the skyline and Big Ben just after midnight, January 1, 2012 in London, England. Thousands of people lined the banks of the River Thames in central London to ring in the New Year with a spectacular fireworks display. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

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President Barack Obama told war-weary Americans in a 15 minute address from the East Room of the White House that the United States had largely achieved it's goals in Afghanistan and that a withdrawal of American troops would be set in motion. He said Afghanistan no longer represented a terrorist threat to the United States and that the "tide of war is receding." He announced plans to withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year. The remaining 20,000 troops from the 2009 "surge" would leave by next summer. He added that the drawdown would continue "at a steady pace" until the US handed over security to the Afghan authorities in 2014. President Sarkozy, of France, said he would also begin drawing down the 4,000-strong French contingent in Afghanistan. In keeping with 5,000 years of Afghan history, President Hamid Karzai said, “Afghans would take responsibility for the preservation of their soil, the security of their people and educating their children by the end of 2014.” In this post, we offer more glimpses of the troops and the Afghan people as they coexist, for now. - Paula Nelson (45 photos total)
U.S. President Barack Obama is seen on live television screens in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, June 22, 2011 in Washington, DC. Obama announced he will order 10,000 troops to pull out of Afghanistan this year and another 20,000 troops by the end of next summer. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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