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Foreign Policy: A Year In The Life Of A U.S. Soldier

U.S. soldiers gather near a destroyed vehicle and protect their faces from dust blown by a helicopter — known as rotor wash — as their wounded comrades are airlifted by Medevac from the 159th Brigade Task Force Thunder to Kandahar Hospital Role 3. Three soldiers were wounded while their vehicle was destroyed up by an improvised explosive device. Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. soldiers gather near a destroyed vehicle and protect their faces from dust blown by a helicopter — known as rotor wash — as their wounded comrades are airlifted by Medevac from the 159th Brigade Task Force Thunder to Kandahar Hospital Role 3. Three soldiers were wounded while their vehicle was destroyed up by an improvised explosive device.

Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

It has been a tumultuous year for the U.S. Armed Services, one that included the complete withdrawal of troops from Iraq and preparations for a dramatic drawdown of combat troops in Afghanistan, the end of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, the removal of a dictator in Libya, and a strategic pivot to Asia. At the same time, the American military has weathered a scandal over burning Qurans in Afghanistan and stared down the barrel of a looming budget fight in Congress.

For Memorial Day, Foreign Policytook a look at the last year in the life of the troops on the front lines, from young cadets on their graduation day to wounded veterans learning to live with disabilities.

See The Rest Of This Slideshow At Foreign Policy