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US troops at the front lines of America’s longest war

Sometimes it meant holding a remote post as mortars, rockets and gunfire struck almost every day for troops at the frontlines. Patrols in orchards to search for hidden Taliban meant that they had to travel down roads with explosives. They went into villages to try and build support. Gun battles erupted after raids on militant commanders.

The 2009 surge saw troops seize territory from the Taliban's southern strongholds of Helmand and Kandahar, but the insurgents would retake it many years later after the surge receded. Over the years, there were many troops who fought for control in strategic valleys like Korengal, which is located in the high mountains near the Pakistani border, or Aurangdal, which protects the Kandahar approaches.

Although the Americans' combat role in Afghanistan was ended nearly seven years ago by the United States, troops continued to train Afghan forces and hunt down terrorists. On Friday, the final troops left Bagram Airfield north of Kabul as their main base during the conflict. This signaled that they were close to completing their withdrawal.

In the span of almost 20 years, over 2,400 American servicemembers died and more than 22,000 were injured.

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