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Afghanistan, September 2012: The End of the Surge

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In the month of September 2012, the United States completed its withdrawal of the 33,000 troops deployed to Afghanistan in the "surge" of 2009. However, the U.S. still has 86,000 troops engaged in Operation Enduring Freedom, even as some coalition members are now finishing up their deployments. Also this month, coalition troops have curtailed joint operations with Afghan Army and police forces, due to increased attacks on foreign soldiers by members of the Afghan forces -- and heightened tensions resulting from widespread anger over an anti-Islam movie produced in the U.S. 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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Four MV-22 Ospreys with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 follow a KC-130J with Detachment A, Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352, from Helmand province, Afghanistan, to the USS Iwo Jima in the Arabian Sea, on September 6, 2012. (USMC/Sgt. John Jackson)
Four MV-22 Ospreys with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 follow a KC-130J with Detachment A, Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352, from Helmand province, Afghanistan, to the USS Iwo Jima in the Arabian Sea, on September 6, 2012. (USMC/Sgt. John Jackson)
A riot policeman keeps watch during a demonstration in Kabul, on September 21, 2012. Hundreds of Afghans protested against a U.S.-made film they say insults the Prophet Mohammad. (Reuters/Omar Sobhani) #
16th BC French unit soldiers unload their vehicles before their return to France as part of French disengagement at Warehouse base in Kabul, on September 23, 2012. France is the fifth largest contributor to NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which is due to pull out the vast majority of its 130,000 troops by the end of 2014. (Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images) #
US Army soldiers attached to the 2nd platoon, C-Coy. 1-23 Infantry based at Zangabad forward operating base in Panjwai district deploy an Anti Personnel Obstacle Breaching System (A-POBS), which are charges fired by rocket used to trigger a safe detonation of IEDs. Photo taken during a dawn operation at Naja-bien village, on September 23, 2012. (Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images) #
Dust kicks off the ground during an operation by US Army soldiers attached to the 2nd platoon, C-Coy. 1-23 Infantry based at Zangabad foward operating base in Panjwai district after an A-POBS detonation on a nearby road during a dawn operation, on September 23, 2012. (Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images) #
An Afghan woman carries her child through the Kati Sakhi cemetery in Kabul, on September 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic) #
Afghan policemen investigate at the site of suicide attack in Kabul, on September 8, 2012. A suicide bomber detonated explosives near the heavily barricaded NATO headquarters in the Afghan capital, killing four civilians, NATO and local officials said. (Reuters/Omar Sobhani) #
Pigeons fly above dwellings in the hillside neighborhood of Jamal Mina and the Abdul Rahman Khan mosque in Kabul, on September 27, 2012. It is estimated that about 20 percent of the city's more less than 5 million residents live on houses built on steep hills that surround the city. Running water was recently installed on some homes in this neighborhood but open sewers run down hill. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images) #
A soldier from the 1st Platoon, 1-64 Armoured Battalion, US Army, walks through a marijuana field during a security patrol near Morghan-Kecha village in Daman district, Kandahar, on September 6, 2012 near the Kandahar Air Field. The Taliban are involved in a quarter of Afghan security personnel attacks on NATO colleagues, according to a military commander. The surge of assaults, unprecedented in modern warfare, have seen Afghan troops opening fire on their NATO colleagues more than 30 times this year, killing at least 45 foreign troops -- most of them Americans. (Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images) #
U.S. Marines with the fiscal development team, C-9, Regional Command (Southwest), distribute hero payments, financial compensation given to families of fallen Afghan Local Police killed in the line of duty in Zarghun Kalay, Helmand province, on September 10, 2012. (USMC/Lance Cpl. Robert J. Reeves) #
An Afghan girl from the local Pashtun tribe peers from behind a mud perimeter wall to watch US Army soldiers from the 1st Platoon, Delta Coy, 1-64 ARS army at Nevay-deh village, a short distance from the Lindsey forward operating base on September 13, 2012. (Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images) #
Members of 455th Expeditionary Communications Squadron prepare to connect tower sections as a civilian contractor helicopter lowers sections into place. A specialized team from several Air National Guard Engineering Installation Squadrons deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, combined their efforts to build and set up the 170-foot communications tower, greatly increasing radio communication range. (USAF/1st Lt. Bruce Champion) #
A U.S. Army firing party stands ready during the burial service of U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Thalia S. Ramirez at Arlington National Cemetery, on September 26, 2012 in Arlington, Virginia. Ramirez died September 5 in Logar Province, Afghanistan, from injuries suffered when a OH-58D Kiowa helicopter crashed. (Win McNamee/Getty Images) #
During a burial service for U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Thalia S. Ramirez, Brigadier Gen. Charles Flynn (left) presents the American flag that covered her casket to Ramirez's husband, U.S. Army Sgt. Jesse Belbeck at Arlington National Cemetery, on September 26, 2012 in Arlington, Virginia. (Win McNamee/Getty Images) #
Afghan boys play football on a hill in Kabul, on September 11, 2012. (Reuters/Mohammad Ismail) #
Injured Afghan men arrive at a hospital in the back of a truck, along with the dead bodies of other victims, after a suicide attack on a funeral in Durbaba district of Jalalabad, on September 4, 2012. Afghan officials say a suicide bomber killed several civilians and wounded dozens more at a funeral for a village elder in a remote part of eastern Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) #
A man smokes hashish in a backstreet of a market in Kabul, on September 23, 2012. There is a growing unease for the future of the Afghan economy, mainly supported by foreign aid, after the expected pullout of NATO troops from the country in 2014. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images) #
French soldiers secure a perimeter at a forward observing post near the National Police Training Center (NPTC) in Wardak province, on on September 26, 2012. (Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images) #
A U.S. Army soldier from C-Coy. 1st platoon, 1-23 infantry points to a monitor showing video from a remote controlled vehicle displaying an image of a pressure plate type commonly used by Taliban insurgents to trigger IED explosions. Photo taken during a patrol in the village of Gerandai in Panjway district, Kandahar Province, on September 21, 2012. (Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images) #
U.S. Marines with Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 211, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) relocate six AV-8B Harriers to continue conducting counter-insurgency operations, Camp Bastion, Helmand province, Afghanistan, on September 26, 2012. The six AV-8B Harriers were relocated to Camp Bastion to increase the overall readiness level after the base was attacked on September 14, 2012. (USMC/Sgt. Keonaona C. Paulo) #
Spc. Sarah Sutphin removes her new body armor after training on a firing range on September 18, 2012, in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Female soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division are field testing the first Army body armor designed to fit women's physiques in preparation for their deployment to Afghanistan this fall. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) #
An Afghan rides a horse at sunset in Kabul, on September 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic) #
Modest buildings crowd the side of a hill overlooking Kabul on September 27, 2012. According to the World Bank more than a third of the population of Afghanistan live below the poverty line, more than half are vulnerable and at serious risk of falling into poverty. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images) #
A newborn baby girl, discovered abandoned on the road during an armored patrol of Polish sappers in southern Afghanistan, receives attention in Waghez, Afghanistan, on September 20, 2012. Named "Pola" by the troops, for Poland, the baby girl has been examined by military doctors and was to be handed over to Afghan pediatricians and authorities. (AP Photo/Marcin Gil/Poland's Defense Ministry) #
French soldiers sit in their vehicle as they drive to an operation in Warehouse base in Kabul, on September 24, 2012. (Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images) #
An Afghan villager holds up a blood-stained hand to US military soldiers from the 3rd platoon, C-company, 1-23 infantry, before they use a ballistics kit to test for explosive residue on his hands. The man was shot because he was suspected of being an insurgent and planting a roadside bomb, in Genrandai village at Panjwai district, Kandahar, on September 24, 2012. The wounded man denied being Taliban, an association with which consequently leads to incarceration for the suspect and his family, saying he had been working at a grapevine when he was shot. (Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images) #
An Afghan hound stands on the roof of a house during a patrol by US Army soldiers from Delta Company at Qalacha village in Kandahar, on September 10, 2012. (Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images) #
A bundle of leaflets disperses in the wind after being thrown from an MV-22 Osprey aircraft by a U.S. Army member, above Gereshk, Helmand Province, on September 19, 2012. The leaflets are intended to inform Afghan farmers about Peace and National Unity Week. (USAF/Senior Master Sgt. Dennis Martin) #
Haley Leonard holds on to her father, SFC Kyle Leonard, after he arrived at a homecoming ceremony with his unit, the 713th Engineer Company of the Indiana Army National Guard, at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Gary, Indiana, on September 26, 2012. The 713th Engineers were returning from a deployment in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Six soldiers from the unit were killed during the deployment. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) #
A crowd gathers at an open air market where farmers sell their produce in Herat, on September 25, 2012. (Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images) #
A man raises arms, looking at a victim lying on the ground among wreckage, at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, on September 18, 2012. A suicide bomber blew himself up alongside a minivan carrying foreigners on a major highway leading to the international airport in the Afghan capital, police said, killing at least 10 people, including nine foreigners. (Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images) #
An Afghan policeman takes photos as he stands over bodies at the scene of a suicide bomb attack in Kabul, on September 18, 2012. Afghan insurgent group Hezb-e-Islami claimed responsibility on Tuesday for the suicide bomb attack on a minivan carrying foreign workers that killed 12 people saying it was retaliation for a film mocking the Prophet Mohammad. Most of the foreigners killed were reportedly South Africans, employed by an aviation charter company working under contract for USAID. (Reuters/Mohammad Ismail) #
An Afghan boy from the Pashtun tribe watches as a joint patrol between soldiers from the 1st Platoon, 1-64 Armored Battalion of the US Army walks through Morghan-Khecha village in Daman district, Kandahar province, on September 8, 2012. (Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images) #
Afghan villagers raise their weapons as they vow to defend their village against the Taliban in Achen district of Nangarhar province, on September 17, 2012. Taliban fighters are being pushed out of some areas in eastern Afghanistan by local militias defending their villages, according to local leaders. (Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images) #
Afghan workers employed by the municipality of Kabul clean the polluted Kabul river on September 27, 2012. Hundreds of workers earn the equivalent of $100 USD for a month's worth of work cleaning trash that has been dumped on the river by its inhabitants. (Jawad Jalali/AFP/Getty Images) #
A wounded woman rests at a hospital after NATO air strikes in Laghman province, on September 16, 2012. NATO-led air strikes in southern Laghman province on Saturday night killed eight women, according to a local official. (Reuters/Parwiz) #
Afghan policemen take part to an exercise under the supervision of the Eurogendfor in the National Police Training Center (NPTC) in Wardak province, on September 26, 2012. (Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images) #
A blind student weaves a cleaning brush at the Kabul Blind School, on September 2, 2012. The Kabul Blind School was established in 1977 and has more than 187 students. It is the only school for the blind in Afghanistan. (Reuters/Omar Sobhani) #
Coalition Forces attend a memorial service in honor of Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible at Camp Bastion, Helmand province, on September 19, 2012. Raible, commanding officer of Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 211, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3D Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), was killed in action while repealing an enemy attack on Camp Bastion on September 14, 2012. (USMC/Sgt. Keonaona C. Paulo) #
Ahmad Tazim, who makes a living as a construction worker, stands with his two sons Naim (left), 5, and Karim, 2, in front of his home in the hillside neighborhood of Jamal Mina high above Kabul, on September 27, 2012. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images) #
A view of German outpost Observation Point North in restive Baghlan province in Northern Afghanistan, on August 22, 2012. About 600 German troops are based at OP North. (Reuters/Sabine Siebold) #
Afghan children run to school in a village on the road to Naghlu, Afghanistan, on September 24, 2012. (Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images) #
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