National Security Agency headquarters at Fort Meade, Md. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Sgt. Chris Cunningham has served five tours in Afghanistan, surviving some of the most horrific fighting of the past decade. Cunningham is now working in something of a safe haven at Combat Outpost Arian in Ghazni province. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

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When American forces leave the Panjwai area in November, Afghan security forces will have to find a way to work together across the spectrum of local and national forces. If they don't, the Taliban will continue to find a safe haven and mount attacks on Kandahar. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

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U.S. Green Berets patrol with Afghan National Army special forces outside the village of Kasan, in Wardak province. The Green Berets along with the ANASF have been training Afghan local police to take the lead in their village stability and security. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

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The gray line in the upper left comes from an aerial view of Afghanistan's crucial Highway 1, the main route between Kabul and Kandahar, the two biggest cities. U.S. forces are still working to secure the route which runs through lush farm valleys and the high desert terrain. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

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U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Johnson trains at Bagram Air Field for the Memorial Day Murphy, a CrossFit workout honoring a Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan in 2005. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption David Gilkey/NPR

Marine Sgt. Maj. Damion Jacobs (left) and Marine Capt. Cam West visit with Boston emergency workers who responded to the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Oren Dorell for USA Today hide caption

itoggle caption Oren Dorell for USA Today