U.S. Marines attend a role call on the flight deck of the USS Essex, a multipurpose amphibious assault ship, in November. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he wants to reduce the Marine Corps by 15,000 to 20,000 in the coming years. Ed Jones/Getty Images hide caption

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U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James Amos testifies on Capitol Hill in September. Amos, now the Marine Corps' top officer, told Congress earlier this month that "don't ask, don't tell" should remain the law of the land. Alex Brandon/AP hide caption

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An Afghan policeman receives weapons training from U.S. soldiers on the outskirts of Afghanistan's Kandahar City last month. Rodrigo Abd/AP hide caption

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Col. Muhammed Rasoud Qandahari, one of the top Afghan army officers in the Kandahar region, speaks with a young man outside a shura, or community meeting, in Panjwaii, west of Kandahar. U.S. troops are hoping to clear the area of Taliban and let Afghan troops take over. Greg Dixon/NPR hide caption

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Soldiers from Chaos Company, 101st Airborne Division, destroy a building in Kandahar. Troops from Headquarters Company recently entered the abandoned Kandahar village of Haji Abdu Rauf to destroy anything useful so the Taliban don't use it as a safe haven. Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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President Obama and Gen. Stanley McChrystal in the Oval Office on May 19, 2009. McChrystal's firing this summer following his comments in a magazine interview prompted soul-searching within the military. Pete Souza/The White House/Getty Images hide caption

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Emma and Christopher Winfield at their home in Cape Coral, Fla., on Sept. 3. Their son, U.S. Army Spc. Adam Winfield, is accused of murdering civilians during his deployment to Afghanistan, a charge he and his family firmly refute. Erik Kellar/AP hide caption

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A U.S. F-15 fighter jet takes off in Saudi Arabia during the 1990-91 Operation Desert Shield. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

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Tooryalai Wesa, the provincial governor of Kandahar, says that international organizations are attracting Afghans with better salaries, which creates another problem for recruiting civil servants. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

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U.S. Marines wait for the beginning of the dedication ceremony of the National Museum of the Marine Corps in November 2006 in Quantico, Va. For more than 200 years, the Marine Corps has been hitting the beaches. But over the past decade, the Marines have operated like a smaller Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, far from the water's edge. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

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