Haji Lala, a tribal leader in Sangeray, looks on as a U.S.-Afghan joint patrol enters the village looking for teenagers believed responsible for throwing grenades at coalition patrols. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

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Capt. Dan Luckett wades through a creek while patrolling earlier this month in Afghanistan's Kandahar province. He lost his left leg and part of his right foot to a roadside bomb in Iraq two years ago. Spc. Joe Padula/U.S. Army hide caption

itoggle caption Spc. Joe Padula/U.S. Army

An Afghan national police officer (left) searches a man while Karim Jan (right) holds his arms. Jan is the district governor and a trusted ally of the U.S. forces. The counterinsurgency strategy relies heavily on local police and leaders, who live in the community, are closest to the people and should be able to spot insurgents. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

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Afghan national police and U.S. soldiers on a joint patrol in a neighborhood on the outskirts of Kandahar city. The U.S. strategy in Afghanistan depends on training and equipping the Afghan security forces, making them self-reliant and allowing U.S. troops to withdraw. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

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Afghan police and U.S. Army soldiers jointly patrol the outskirts of Kandahar city as a boy pushes another boy in a wheelbarrow. The U.S. effort in Kandahar province faces a key challenge: Security is needed to enable local government to flourish, but without a local government in place, security is difficult to establish. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

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An Afghan commando sits on a mud wall while securing a road for U.S. Special Forces soldiers on patrol in the village of Ezabad, in Afghanistan's Kandahar province. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

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Thousands of U.S. troops are heading to Kandahar in southern Afghanistan to team up with allied and Afghan forces for "Cooperation for Kandahar," an operation to root out the Taliban in its stronghold, the country's second-largest city. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

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Ahmed Wali Karzai (center, on phone), pictured here last November when his brother Hamid was re-elected president of Afghanistan, is a powerful leader in Kandahar. Chairman of Kandahar's provincial council, he is allied with the U.S. but tainted by accusations of corruption. Banaras Khan/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Banaras Khan/AFP/Getty Images

Afghan commandos work on clearing a mock house during a training session conducted by the U.S. Army Special Forces at Fire Base Thomas in western Afghanistan. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

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