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Staff Sgt. Mario Tenario, Company A, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division trains Afghan National Army soldiers how to inspect equipment.

Considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world, Afghanistan has been wracked by continuous war for over three decades. The U.S., U.K., Australia, France, and Afghan United Front began Operation Enduring Freedom on October 7th, 2001 in response to the September 11th attacks in the U.S. The mission focused on the the overthrow of the Taliban government, as well as the ouster of Al Qaida and it leaders, including Osama Bin Laden. With over a decade of combat, it has become the second longest war in the U.S. history. The conflict has resulted in over two thousand U.S. troops killed.

With the death of Bin Laden, the U.S. is formulating plans for withdrawal from the region. President Obama has announced an end to combat operations, but an unknown number of troops will likely remain in the country after the 2014 deadline. Afghanistan is currently seeking financial assistance from other countries to assist in the reconstruction process.

Afghanistan has been populated for millennia, seeing the rise and fall of empires, kingdoms, and religions. Islam -- which influences much of its current culture and politics -- is the most popular religion in the region. The current estimated population is over 30 million, with Pashtun and Tajik as the two largest ethnicities.

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Hagel: Syria Airstrikes Against ISIL Possible

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey said Thursday that U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant forces will be limited to Iraq for the time being, but the ISIL threat eventually will have to be confronted at its core in Syria. At a Pentagon briefing, Hagel and Dempsey appeared to be preparing a war-wear... more

Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes

Wing Leaders Lift Alcohol Ban in Ramstein Dorms

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Unaccompanied airmen on Ramstein and Kapaun Air Station can once again enjoy alcohol in their living quarters. Base leaders announced in a series of town hall meetings Wednesday that they were lifting a 17-month ban on alcohol possession and consumption in and around the dormitories. The easiest step would have be... more

Reporter James Foley

Slaying of American Reopens Debate on Ransoms

WASHINGTON -- By rejecting demands for a nine-digit payment to save kidnapped American journalist James Foley, the United States upheld a policy choice that some European and Arab governments have long found too wrenching to make themselves: ruling out ransom to rescue any citizen held captive by militant organizations, in hopes the tough stand... more

This photo provided by Eugene R. Fidell shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl preparing to be interviewed by Army investigators in August, 2014. (AP Photo/Eugene R. Fidell)

GAO: Pentagon Violated Law With Bergdahl Swap

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon broke the law when it swapped Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a prisoner in Afghanistan for five years, for five Taliban leaders, congressional investigators said Thursday. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office said the Defense Department failed to notify the relevant congressional committees at least 30 days in ... more

NATO Soldier Stabbed, Killed in Afghanistan

A coalition service member in Afghanistan was stabbed to death early Wednesday near the Kabul airport. The identity and nationality of the member of the NATO-led force were not released, but Kabul's police chief said the victim was stabbed in the neck by an alleged low-level Taliban member who was arrested and confessed to the crime. "An Inter... more

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