The U.S. military wants Afghan troops to begin taking the lead role in combat operations. Here, Afghan cadets who are joining the army are shown at their graduation ceremony on Dec. 18 in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. Qais Usyan/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, CDs and DVDs were forbidden. Now the Taliban are trying to attract recruits and supporters by making their own CDs. Here an Afghan man arranges DVDs for sale in the southern city of Kandahar in 2008. Musadeq Sadeq/AP hide caption

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U.S. troops and Afghan National Army soldiers on a joint security patrol in Kandahar province last August. Romeo Gacad /AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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A nurse weighs an Afghan child at a U.S.-funded clinic in Farza, Afghanistan, in September. A new U.S.-sponsored survey shows dramatic gains in life expectancy and other aspects of health care in Afghanistan. But some experts are questioning the accuracy of the results. John Moore/Getty Images hide caption

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The northern Afghan town of Char Bolak is guarded by the Critical Infrastructure Police, an auxiliary police program. The U.S. is increasingly relying on ad hoc local militias to fight the Taliban, but residents and government officials have concerns about the militias. Quil Lawrence/NPR hide caption

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