11 Dramatic Images From The Longest War In U.S. History On Its 14th Anniversary

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Stunning photos tell a story of camaraderie and uncertainty.

It’s hard to fathom that the United States military has been engaged in conflict in Afghanistan for 14 years.  And while the end looked to be in sight at the beginning of the Obama administration, recent Taliban gains in the region will likely reverse the decision to withdraw the majority of US troops by the end of 2016.

Where does this uncertainty leave the US military and the Afghan people they sought to liberate and empower?  Will anyone’s lives return to normal?  What is normal?

It was with this stage set that veteran combat photographer Robert L. Cunningham returned to Afghanistan to capture the mood and unease that pervades  the country.

All of these photos tell a story.  We are especially moved by the photos at the bottom of page 1 and the top of page 2.

Below are 11 remarkable images of the winding down of Operation Enduring Freedom

On October 7, 2001, the US and NATO entered into what would become the longest war in American history.

Operation Enduring Freedom had the dual objective of hitting back at al-Qaida and their Taliban hosts after the 9/11 attacks and rebuilding Afghanistan into a functioning state.

The Taliban is in the middle of a resurgence, with the Afghan military taking unsustainable losses as they assume more of the country’s security burden.

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Serving in Afghanistan was often exhausting, requiring soldiers to partake in grueling 12-hour-long patrols.
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The threat of a Taliban attack always loomed. Vehicles destroyed in past Taliban operations are stacked at a police headquarters as a reminder of the war’s constant dangers.
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Aside from a small residual force of 13,000, the entirety of US and NATO forces are leaving the country.
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Here, a coalition officer takes a moment to reflect his final meeting with his Afghan counterpart.
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The relationships that some service members have formed with Afghan security officials — who will now have to face the Taliban threat without coalition troops backing them — makes leaving the country complicated.

More remarkable photos on the next page.

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