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Afghanistan: May 2012

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This month, President Obama and members of NATO involved in Afghanistan formally agreed on a transition plan, preparing to hand over security responsibilities to Afghan forces by the summer of 2013. France's new president, François Hollande, restated an earlier pledge to remove all French combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of this year. Suicide bombings, IEDs, and a growing number of "green on blue" attacks (men in Afghan uniforms attacking coalition forces) continue to take a toll and limit security efforts. Gathered here are images of those involved in this conflict over the past month, as part of the ongoing series here on Afghanistan. [42 photos]

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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 in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, on May 23, 2012. Small sand particles striking titanium/nickel abrasion strips on the rotors causes a visible corona at night. In 2009, photographer Michael Yon dubbed this phenomenon the "Kopp-Etchells effect", to honor Cpl. Benjamin Kopp, and Cpl. Joseph Etchells, recently fallen American and British soldiers. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Mike 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 in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, on May 23, 2012. Small sand particles striking titanium/nickel abrasion strips on the rotors causes a visible corona at night. In 2009, photographer Michael Yon dubbed this phenomenon the "Kopp-Etchells effect", to honor Cpl. Benjamin Kopp, and Cpl. Joseph Etchells, recently fallen American and British soldiers. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Mike MacLeod)
Jake Beaudoin, a U.S. Army Private of 508 BSTB, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, takes cover during a controlled detonation to clear an area for setting up a check point in Zahri district of Kandahar province, on May 31, 2012. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov) #
Cinema-goers watch a Bollywood film at Ariana Cinema in Kabul, on May 3, 2012. Once a treasured luxury for the elite, Afghan cinemas are dilapidated and reflect an industry on the brink of collapse from conflict and financial neglect. Kabul's cinemas show Pakistani films in Pashto, American action films and Bollywood to rowdy, largely unemployed crowds in pursuit of any distraction from their drab surroundings. (Reuters/Danish Siddiqui) #
Stephanie Montgomery of Atlanta, Georgia, lies on the ground while visiting her brother's grave, Army Staff Sgt. Thaddeus Montgomery, 29, in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on May 28, 2012. Sgt. Montgomery died January 20 at Korengal Outpost, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen) #
The grave of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Michael Harris, seen through an American flag as the the sun rises over Georgia National Cemetery, on May 28, 2012, in Canton, Georgia, Harris died Feb 6, 2012 at the age of 22 while serving in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/David Goldman) #
This aerial photograph taken from a UN flight on May 30, 2012 shows a lake located in the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border area. The number of civilians killed in the Afghan war in the first four months of this year dropped by 21 percent over the same period in 2011, the United Nations said May 30. (Adek Berry/AFP/GettyImages) #
A young Afghan girl tries to grab the crutches of her sister Amida while she is testing her new artificial limbs at the ICRC physical rehabilitation center in Kabul, Afghanistan, on May 27, 2012. Since the ICRC began its rehabilitation program in Afghanistan in 1988, over 43,000 people, including 25,000 amputees, have been treated at its centers in Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif, Herat, Jalalabad and Gulbahar. Among the amputees registered, 77% were landmine victims and 70% civilians. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus) #
A member of Provincial Reconstruction Team Farah during a mission in Bala Baluk, Farah province, on May 29, 2012. (USAF/Staff Sgt. Jonathan Lovelady) #
A disabled Afghan cricketer participates in a regional cricket tournament in Kabul on May 29, 2012. Four regional teams are taking part in the tournament for the disabled, where players will be selected for the national cricket team for forthcoming matches in Pakistan. (Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images) #
An MV-22B Osprey with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 flies over the Khash Rod district in northern Nimroz province, on May 14, 2012. Marines from the squadron transported members of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion and the Afghan National Security Forces' National Interdiction Unit to conduct counter-narcotics operations and disrupt sales in the region. (USMC/Cpl. Isaac Lamberth) #
An Afghan boy rides his horse on a hill overlooking Kabul, on May, 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Ahmad Jamshid) #
A group of veterans against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrate with other protesters on the first day of the NATO summit on May 20, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Sixty heads of state, 2,500 journalists and thousands of protesters converged on Chicago for the two day NATO meeting, addressing the situation in Afghanistan among other global defense issues. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) #
The prosthetic legs of U.S. Army Capt. Dan Berschinski, as he stands on the field before a baseball game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves on May 28, 2012, in Atlanta. Berschinski lost both legs to an IED blast while serving in Afghanistan in 2009. (AP Photo/David Goldman) #
An Afghan bodybuilder performs during the "Mr. Afghanistan" nationwide bodybuilding competition in Kabul on May 9, 2012. Bodybuilding is one of the country's most popular sports, even permitted during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. (Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Getty Images) #
In a long-exposure photo, stars spin above the base chapel at Forward Operating Base Warrior, Ghazni province, on May 13, 2012. The lights at lower left are from soldiers with flashlights walking past. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Mike MacLeod) #
Jalaluddin, 23, a drug addict, sits chained to a wall during his 40-day incarceration at the Mia Ali Baba Shrine in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on May 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) #
The chained leg of Jalaluddin, a drug addict, during his 40-day incarceration at the Mia Ali Baba Shrine in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on May 7, 2012. The shrine is a holy place, and those who care for it say that spending 40 days here will, God willing, free Jalaludin from his personal prison of mental illness. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) #
Rain clouds roll over the mountains next to Wurzi, Khowst province, on May 17, 2012. (U.S. Army/Spc. Kimberly Trumbull) #
Marines with Regimental Combat Team 6's personal security detachment shoot their M4 rifles during a night range at Forward Operating Base Delaram II, on May 29, 2012. The Marines used night vision goggles and infrared lasers to see and aim at their targets. (USMC/Staff Sgt. Brian Buckwalter) #
A soldier from the U.S. Army's 1st Platoon, 18th Engineer Company, Task Force Arrowhead rests at Forward Operating Base Mizan after completing a route clearance patrol in Zabul Province, on May 24, 2012. (Reuters/Tim Wimborne) #
Afghan amputee Malek Mohammad trains in a swimming pool in Kabul. The 18-year-old, whose legs were blown off by a Soviet landmine, dreams of swimming for Afghanistan in the London Paralympics. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images) #
Critical supplies are delivered to an undisclosed location in Afghanistan via airdrop by a C-17 Globemaster III, on May 4, 2012. (USAF/Staff Sgt. Greg Biondo) #
People walk through a portion of the Boston Common covered with American flags, in Boston, Wednesday, May 23, 2012. Relatives and volunteers planted the 33,000 flags in the historic park in advance of the Memorial Day weekend, in tribute to Massachusetts soldiers killed in conflicts as far back as the Civil War. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) #
U.S. Marine Cpl. Miroslav Kazimir stands, with the help of his wife Marcela, while visiting a grave at the National Cemetery on Memorial Day on May 28, 2012 in Arlington, Virginia. He had come to visit the grave of Marine Sgt. Sean Callahan who died in an IED attack in Afghanistan in April of 2011, the same attack that severely damaged both of Zazimir's legs. He is currently undergoing long-term therapy at the military hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. (John Moore/Getty Images) #
Farhad Saffi, the owner of Milli Boot Factory, stands in his closed factory in Kabul. Gazing glumly over millions of dollars worth of machinery which used to churn out thousands of police and army boots each day but now sits wreathed in plastic sheeting, Saffi fears he is seeing the death of an Afghan dream. Milli Boot Factory was a model for Afghanistan, showcasing local manufacturing while giving jobs to hundreds of people who may have otherwise have picked up insurgent guns. But a U.S. decision to hand procurement to the Afghan government has left Milli's owner with something of a developed world problem - local officials opted for cheaper boots made in China and Pakistan, killing off Milli's contracts after a year. (Reuters/Omar Sobhani) #
An Afghan National Army soldier shows his destroyed, army-issued boots at a firing range at the 203 Thunder Corps base in Gardez, Paktia province, on May 15, 2012. Col. Abdul Haleem Noori observed, "It's only two months old and it is falling apart, and we are told it is supposed to last one year." The footwear was made by a manufacturer under contract to the Afghan Ministry of Defense. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus) #
A man walks atop fuel tankers, which were used to carry fuel for NATO forces in Afghanistan, parked at a compound in Karachi, Pakistan, on May 21, 2012. Pakistan and the United States appeared on the verge of clinching an agreement to reopen ground supply lines into Afghanistan, a U.S. official said. Pakistan closed down the supply lines for the Afghan war effort following the NATO air strike in November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. (Reuters/Akhtar Soomro) #
An Afghan boy walks with his cow at sunset in Mazar-i Sharif, capital of the Balkh province, on April 9, 2012. (Qais Usyan/AFP/Getty Images) #
An Afghan Border Police cook stirs a vat of meat and potatoes in the kitchen at the 5th Zone near Mazar-e-Sharif, Balkh province, on May 22, 2012. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Kimberly Lamb) #
A U.S. Army soldier with 721st Engineer Company, 780th Engineer Battalion operates an excavator, right, to tear down a wooden structure on Camp Delaram II, Nimroz province, on May 18, 2012. Soldiers demolished the structure as part of the ongoing process to demilitarize the camp. (USMC/Staff Sgt Raul Gonzalez) #
U.S. Army Spc. Denise Sonnier, from Crowley, Louisiana, a gunner who is serving with the Louisiana National Guard's 1086th Transportation Company, Task Force Muleskinner, prepares rounds for the M240B machine gun of her Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle, on May 23, 2012. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Ken Scar) #
U.S. President Barack Obama greets troops at Bagram Air Base in Kabul, on May 2, 2012. Earlier, Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement at the Presidential Palace. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque) #
Dark smoke rises from a compound after it was attacked by militants in Kabul, on May 2, 2012. A suicide car bomber and Taliban militants disguised in burqas attacked the compound housing hundreds of foreigners in the Afghan capital, officials and witnesses said. The Taliban said the attack was a response to U.S. President Barack Obama's surprise visit just hours earlier. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq) #
Afghan security personnel look on as dead bodies and the wreckage of a vehicle lie in front of a guesthouse in Kabul, on May 2, 2012, after a suicide bomb attack. (Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Getty Images) #
A survivor of a suicide bomb attack is evacuated from the site in Kabul, on May 2, 2012. (Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Getty Images) #
A trail of blood, next to shattered glass in a school complex adjoining the site of a suicide bomb attack at a guesthouse in Kabul, on May 2, 2012. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images) #
U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Michael Straub, a team leader with 1st Platoon, India Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, and fellow 1st Platoon Marines kneel while halted during a security patrol, on April 30, 2012. On the final patrol of their seven-month deployment, the Marines toured the Durzay region of Helmand province's Garmsir district to disrupt possible insurgent activity. (USMC/Cpl. Reece Lodder) #
Lt. Col. Brent Allen, a fighter pilot assigned to the 157th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Kandahar Airfield, launches an F-16 Fighting Falcon for a mission on May 4, 2012. Personnel are deployed from McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (South Carolina National Guard/Tech. Sgt. Caycee Cook) #
U.S. Army soldiers of the Battle company, 1-508 Parachute Infantry battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, play badminton at a compound of Afghan security forces at night before a mission in Zahri district of Kandahar province, on May 30, 2012. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov) #
An Afghan National Army soldier fires a rocket-propelled grenade at an insurgent position during a firefight in Ghazni province, on May 17, 2012. In the distance, Afghan police are running to find cover near a position manned by paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Mike MacLeod) #
A soldier from Charlie Company 5/2 of the U.S. Army tests a metal detector as he prepares for a mission at Forward Operating Base Apache in Afghanistan's Zabul Province, on May 23, 2012. (Reuters/Tim Wimborne) #
Wyatt McCain, 8, from North Pole, Alaska, sits beside his father's grave at the National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on May 28, 2012 -- Memorial Day. His dad, Army SFC Johnathan McCain, was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in November of 2011. Wyatt came with his mother and three sisters to take part in a "Good Grief Camp". Five hundred military children and teens, many of whom had a parent that was killed in the Afghan and Iraq wars, attended the annual four-day camp in Arlington and Washington, DC, which is run by TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors). The camp helped them learn coping skills and build relationships so they know they are not alone in the grief of their loved one. They met others of their own age group, learned together and shared their feelings, both through group activities and one-on-one mentors, who are all active duty or former military service members. The TAPS slogan is "Remember the Love. Celebrate the Life. Share the Journey." (John Moore/Getty Images) #

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