U.S. soldiers return fire upon a sudden attack by Taliban on Combat Outpost Badel in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border, Dec. 25. Rafiq Maqboold/AP hide caption

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates (left) and Afghan President Hamid Karzai this month in Kabul. Musadeq Sadeq/AP hide caption

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates speaks during a  news conference in Kabul on Wednesday. Gates visited Afghanistan to assess progress in the war. Musadeq Sadeq/AP hide caption

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Gates bestows awards to soldiers in Kunar province on Tuesday. Win McNamee/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Service members handcuffed themselves to the White House fence during an April protest for gay rights. The potential repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy barring openly gay troops from serving raises practical questions about housing and fairness for the Pentagon. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP hide caption

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U.S. Army paratroopers patrol a busy market street in downtown Herat in northwest Afghanistan in June. In the past year, insurgent attacks and crime have spiked in this part of the country, which previously had been relatively calm. It's believed that U.S.-led operations in neighboring provinces are driving insurgents north, to Herat. Chris Hondros/Getty Images AsiaPac hide caption

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Trucks wait to cross the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan near Spin Boldak in Afghanistan's Kandahar province. The U.S. military is trying to prevent Taliban militants from fleeing to Pakistan to regroup. Rachel Martin/NPR hide caption

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An Italian soldier (right) with Afghan army soldiers at  NATO's Combat Outpost Cavour in Bala Murghab. Here and in locations throughout the country, U.S., NATO and Afghan forces have retaken ground from the Taliban and are seeking to expand their areas of security control. Courtesy of Italian Army Maj. Igor Piani/ISAF hide caption

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A U.S. contractor looks away from a dust cloud whipped up by a helicopter departing over the gatepost at Combat Outpost Terra Nova in Kandahar, Afghanistan. A recent government report states that billions of dollars are being spent on reconstruction in Afghanistan, but the money is not being tracked. Rodrigo Abd/AP hide caption

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