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December 30, 2009 Permalink

Afghanistan, December, 2009

The first waves of President Obama's announced "surge" of up to 30,000 more U.S. troops made their way to Afghanistan this month. The troops will be joined by a smaller but important "civilian surge", bumping the number of U.S. civilians serving one-year tours in Afghanistan up from the current level of 1,000 to 1,300 within the next six months. The civilians will be tasked with helping to strengthen and rebuild much Afghanistan's society, with projects planned in finance, agriculture, health care and much more. Collected here are images of the country and conflict over the past month, part of an ongoing monthly series on Afghanistan. (43 photos total)

Afghans ride a motorcycle past United States Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines "Warlords", not seen, during an operation to hunt for insurgents following an exchange of fire in the Garmsir district of the volatile Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)
more photos
This page lists only comments and the first photo for the entry.
To see the entire entry, with all photographs, click here.

90 comments so far...

Darwinism is going to catch up with the kid in picture No. 17 some day.

Posted by Anonymous December 30, 09 12:27 PM

Nice pics!

Posted by Toma December 30, 09 12:49 PM

to 1

Posted by Anonymous December 30, 09 12:52 PM

#17 great!

Posted by Alan December 30, 09 12:54 PM

I knew that #19 was Canadian before I saw the flag or read the description. Always hits you in the gut when one of your countrymen dies for you.

All men are brothers. That’s why we shed tears for those who we don’t know.

Posted by range December 30, 09 12:56 PM

#43 is such a symbol. The American shadow over a child who is not yet a fighter.
#28 seems so ironic to me: a soldier whose name resonates as Russian, who is actually a US soldier is just another lost in an Afghan war.

Posted by Elise December 30, 09 01:05 PM

Dogfighting in pic 38. Hey Mike Vick needs to take it on the road!

Posted by Anonymous December 30, 09 01:06 PM


Posted by Zishaan December 30, 09 01:07 PM

#5 one devil dog to another!

Posted by MarketGarden December 30, 09 01:24 PM

The girl expression on #11 is moving…

Posted by Calusarus December 30, 09 01:26 PM

#30 - Bollywood doesnt leave you in the battlefield too..The hindi films are just so much fun....

Posted by Sam December 30, 09 01:45 PM

@6 That's the beauty of America. Anyone from any region of the world can move here and call themselves an American.

Picture #43 might as well be a representation of this entire messed-up decade we're about to leave.

Thank god, it, and Bush, are soon to be gone.

Posted by mdmadph December 30, 09 01:50 PM

I have a bad feeling with #11; isn't it a violation of privacy-rights, showing the orphans and widows that way?
On the other hand - a moving shot.

Posted by radolfos December 30, 09 02:02 PM

I don't like picture #37...

Posted by Richi December 30, 09 02:19 PM

Happy New Year from Romania.

Posted by Dan December 30, 09 02:23 PM

Obama is worse than Bush.

Posted by Learner December 30, 09 02:24 PM
Posted by Dan December 30, 09 02:32 PM


Posted by Rrabano December 30, 09 02:39 PM

@12 - What does Bush have to do with anything? This is Obama's war now...whether you or anyone else wants to admit it or not.

Posted by T December 30, 09 02:44 PM

#41 is beautiful

Posted by Josef Pannee December 30, 09 02:52 PM

@Range, no offense, but no soldier in Afghanistan has died for you -- we are under no threat of invasion.

@T (comment #18) At least Obama has a plan with a deadline for our withdrawal in Afghanistan. That said, we need to withdrawal now, imo. And it is Bush's fault that we're not out of there yet. Actually, Obama has spent most of his first year cleaning up the mess of the Bush years.

Posted by Kevin December 30, 09 03:15 PM

Maybe just add in subtitle it's the Polish one.
If I am not wrong, this is the first time Polish presence in Afghanistan is brought here. Some courtesy salute...?

Posted by bremar December 30, 09 03:22 PM

This is my favorite set yet. I've never seen a set with such a high portion that I think are excellent.

Posted by Z. J. Kendall December 30, 09 03:30 PM

Interesting pictures but too sad if we realize there are families who ve lost their sons before christmas

Posted by Veronika December 30, 09 04:34 PM

On picture # 41, why would the trainee have his fingernails painted red? Some local custom or tradition? A lollipop eating trainee with red fingernails just cant inspire that much confidence, can he? Great pictures by the way.

Posted by raul briseno December 30, 09 04:36 PM

First of, Kevin Frayer and the other photographers that have contributed there photos, I must say these are extremely well shot and very motivating photos. I have completed two tours in Lwara Afghanistan and provided security for Kevin Sites (yahoo hotzone) during his rotation and photo expedition. To capture some of these shots was either sheer luck or by the grace of god. AMAZING! Really lets you see every side of the couture and situations that are faced as a soldier in Afghanistan to citizens of the country. I have some photos I took that I didnt see on this page due to media restrictions at the time at

Thanks for the great shots! Amazing, I will pass this around!

Posted by Shane Ruiz December 30, 09 05:30 PM

It's always the children that get me: Nos. 23 and 26.

Most likely no "Happy New Year" for them :-(

Posted by Robert Zimmerman December 30, 09 06:57 PM

¿Y porque no dejamos en paz a esos pueblos y los respetamos todos/as un poco mas?

Posted by Oscar December 30, 09 06:58 PM

Very moving pictures. Puts faces to the stories we all read. It's hard to take one side or another, war is evil and all suffer the destruction it brings. No one is right, we all pay the price. Freedom???

Posted by Cathy L December 30, 09 07:27 PM

Lovely pictures as always, showing the rawness and brittleness of life. I still can't make the connection that all of those Afghani people have any reason to be fighting with the US or other nations - they all just look like they want to raise families and survive. Come on home... everyone... please.

Posted by JustHoping December 30, 09 07:30 PM

God bless us...
Happy New Year.

Posted by Benjamin Sunding December 30, 09 07:45 PM

These photos surely tells a story. So sad and so unnecessary for the hatred and brutality and fighting. The children are so helpless. Pricks my heart. Ans we wonder what we are going to do on our next vacation? God help us all.

Posted by Elizabeth Abbott December 30, 09 08:29 PM

Lot of emotions come to me when I watch these pictures.

The # 17 is fabulous ...
The # 19 make me feel so sad...
The # 23 gives me hope...
The # 37 is so scaring ...

Posted by lexi68 from Canada December 30, 09 09:17 PM

It's hard to call ourselves liberators when we're perceived by Afghanis as occupiers, the vast majority of whom don't want us there and see no difference between us and an invading and threatening army.

Posted by Shawn December 30, 09 09:18 PM

#27 -- what a spectacular picture.

Posted by kata December 30, 09 09:53 PM

#9 is the one that moves me the most...

Posted by Anonymous December 30, 09 10:14 PM

do they realize what are they fighting for..?

Posted by ev December 30, 09 10:53 PM

Happy and Prosperous New Year !!

Posted by Vishal Mantri December 30, 09 11:06 PM

@25, red paint on his fingernails on picture #41 is henna, meaning he just got married.

Posted by N Duke December 30, 09 11:20 PM

Picture number 11 is to not forget that war make always orphans and widows and picture 23 to remeber tha hope is still here in Afghanistan...

Posted by Thucydide December 30, 09 11:36 PM

#36 - Very sad to see a 22 year old soldier from my hometown of Ocala, FL died from a IED. What a shame. I will be so glad when there can be some sort of peace in that region of the world.

Posted by Jen December 31, 09 12:17 AM

22 - It's a polish helicopter

Posted by Maciek W. December 31, 09 12:55 AM

Really like this "sometimes" humorous look you have on some photos

Great work once more

Posted by Anthony December 31, 09 04:12 AM

comment #19. With a nickname like yours, there is hope that yu will learn something one day. Sadly ong way to go though...

your statement falls short of anything interesting to say. Why don't you develop and show what you're learning. Nobody can be worse than Bush, except his team mates of course.

Obama, whether you like him or not, has to clean up 8 years of Bushies disaster. Not fair on him to get such a lousy heritage but that's a fact...

on top the republicans are now barring every move he does with their childish behaviors. It is going to be quite a challenge to judge Obama, whether he was honest or not.

Posted by ben wilhelmi December 31, 09 04:40 AM

Many good photos. #33 and #43 are awesome. Happy New Year from Ukraine! I hope it will be more peaceful.

Posted by Andrew December 31, 09 05:08 AM

The man 'sitting next to the moon' - Afghanistan is ahead in the space race!

Posted by Elderon December 31, 09 05:59 AM


Polish Mi24

Posted by dawid December 31, 09 06:07 AM

Have to admit the caption on #22 made me laugh. "Hard landing" is what they call a crash? I love military euphemisms.

Posted by K Swiss December 31, 09 06:19 AM
49. that's how much our efforts are appreciated.

Posted by alc December 31, 09 07:27 AM

#25 is a masterpiece. A camouflaged bible. It all boils down to this basic issue really.

Posted by David A. December 31, 09 09:41 AM

@25 IMHO, shouldn't it be "bible" OR something "new" .. and not "new" AND "bible"? Didn't God stop revealing sacred verses long time ago?

Posted by asish December 31, 09 10:24 AM


Posted by TATA December 31, 09 11:36 AM

Picture 29, COP Wilderness is also known as FOB Tellier after SGT Zachary Tellier from Massachusetts. His picture is up in the CP for all to see.

Posted by Scott December 31, 09 11:56 AM

"Anyone from any region of the world can move here and call themselves an American."
So, all the hate towards mexicans's magically gone?

Posted by JoeG December 31, 09 11:58 AM

Picture # 40 represents some of the information operations the taliban runs on its own citizens. They include spreading rumors that we (U.S. military) defile the Koran, kill civilians, want to occupy their country, and what not. After they spread the rumor, they have their local thugs organize a "protest rally" that is, of course, within camera distance of the western media. It is a constant battle to counter these ridiculous falsehoods that the illiterate Afghan public (and liberal Democrats) believe without question because they come from the imams, who are their main source of news on the outside world.

Posted by In Kabul December 31, 09 11:59 AM

Number one looks so photoshopped, specially the driver's face.

Anyways, 39 and 37 are amazing photos, I don't know if it takes luck or skill to get shots like that.

Posted by Fernando Jorge December 31, 09 01:02 PM

Some the best, especially #10--shows the realities of war.

Posted by Charles B Cadwallader December 31, 09 01:24 PM

Powerful images as always.

Everyone of these men and women are heroes whether from the US, Canada, Germany or wherever. God bless 'em.

WRT "Bush will soon be gone", I believe that history will be kinder to him than Michael Moore, or ABC/CBS/etc ever were.

I hope for the best from Obama - even though I am not American, but I have been underwhelmed with the ongoing blame, and the me-first attitude. I sincerely hope his second year will show better maturation than his first.

Posted by R. Ed Neck December 31, 09 01:51 PM

great set as always, but an especially good reminder of the culture and conditions of a country we know so little of, but will come to know some intimately. a healthy new year to you!

Posted by Anonymous December 31, 09 05:21 PM

You are an awesome photographer. Kudos to you dude.

Posted by Eddie B. December 31, 09 06:16 PM

As constantes vindas a este site me propiciam momentos inefáveis de reflexão e arrebatamento.
As fotos de hoje conseguiram mais uma vez me emocionar,como ser humano..
Quanta truculência,quanto medo,quantos elementos imagéticos capazes de destituir qualquer sentimento assemelhado à esperança..
Há,contudo,felizmente,sinais de que tanto um sentimento,ou ausência deste (otimismo),é um erro..Como a foto do cachorrinho segurado pelo soldado norte-americano (#18).. Em contrapartida a foto quinta (#5)..
Enfim,elementos que roboram sempre essa dualidade,que por conseguinte,trazem sentimentos duais..

Menos injustiça,menos sofrimento são meus votos..

Posted by barbara ilario December 31, 09 07:20 PM

I wish the uk forces could be represented far more in the published pictures. They are the one fighting in helmand province day in day out and lose far more troops than certain other countries who are based in the far safer areas.

Posted by Jon Betts January 1, 10 05:52 AM

Kevin Frayer rocks!

Posted by m January 1, 10 06:40 AM

43 says it all.

Posted by Anonymous January 1, 10 11:42 AM

It so sad that so many of our US troops die in accidents. :( I hope they all come home safely and soon!

Posted by Meg January 1, 10 07:56 PM

very nice pic ...good job.......jolies photos.........excellent travail...........

Posted by rogers January 2, 10 09:46 AM

This is an answere for Raul Breseno comment #25 Yes, that is a custom between Pashtoons color their full hands and feet with "Hana" the color on fingernails never remove until the nail growup and cut it. its not normal on the cities for men to do it so but some villagers especially Pashton ppl don't care their men uses hana as u see on the photo.
picture#42 took me a while to think. i never thought American armies have hard time like to sleep out side in 27 deg winter.

Posted by an afghanes woman January 2, 10 05:40 PM

War is stupid. Fire guns are too. Afghanistan for afghans, everybody else should go back home, mind their own business.

Posted by Lucia January 2, 10 06:28 PM

Apa yang lihat di fhoto ini dan bagaiman tanggapan anda.

Posted by ridwan January 2, 10 11:53 PM

>> I still can't make the connection that all of those Afghani people have any reason to be fighting with the US or other nations

Interesting point. Here's a hypothetical question: I wonder what would happen if tens of thousands of foreigners invaded the USA / UK / Canada etc. How would people in those countries feel? Would they be welcomed with open arms?

The question is not to take anything away from the bravery and commitment of those who serve in the armed forces, because they are far braver than I could ever be. I respect them for that.

I just think that sometimes people look at insurgents / millitants, and think they're all insane people who do not follow any reasoning. Again, if the tables were turned, people would not like to feel like they are being invaded, and would probably fight tooth and nail to rid their country of foreign invaders.

Posted by Arthur January 3, 10 04:41 AM

Afghanistan is a vast quicksand known world over. The history says that the country who wants to commit harakiri chooses Afghanistan. I wonder, why America, the most intelligent country in the world chose to send her army to die their?

Posted by aabid surti January 3, 10 01:27 PM

Americans are crazy. They fund Pakistan who in turn equip Taliban suicide bombers who blow up Americans in Afganistan.

Posted by Rameez Raja January 4, 10 03:32 AM

Amazing pictures

Posted by Armando Rojas January 5, 10 03:30 PM

Happy New Year from Russia!
People do not fight!
Peace to you! ^^

Posted by Pelmender January 5, 10 11:28 PM

The irony in #9 is breathtaking!

Posted by Observer January 7, 10 01:17 AM

Instead of invading AFGANISTAN AND IRAK to kill and be killed,why we did not use our common sense and try to win by other intelligent means?

Why ?

Posted by Fernando Concha January 7, 10 03:49 PM

nice pictures,i like them.
i want my safe homelend back.
i am an asylum seeker in uk,waiting for my country to be safed...................................

Posted by AMAN SARFARAZ January 8, 10 05:49 PM

Such a shame. All these lives lost, for what? Does it make us in the UK and the US feel safer? Is this fight for us? No it isn't. Young men are being sent out to fight a war which was started by their own damn superiors and their families have to suffer when they return in coffins.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will go down in history as the most pointless wars of modern warfare. Nothing has changed since they started, there isn't even enough consistent electricity in two countries which have vast Oil and Natural gas reserves!!

I pray for peace where division by religion won't exist.

Posted by A well wisher January 8, 10 08:56 PM

I can imagine being in one of those soldiers funerals and seeing #11 and imagining what she maybe going through and what she will go through in her life.

Posted by Neutral January 10, 10 01:44 AM

I served with 2/2 from 2005 to 2009. I got out this summer and looking at these pictures really make me wish I was over there with them. Good luck and stay safe Warlords!!! Semper Fi!

Posted by Paul January 11, 10 05:13 AM

So interesting

Posted by BUYSE January 14, 10 01:36 AM

To Kevin on Comment #21: I myself am very indebted to every soldier that goes out there risking their lives for us. I myself have served in another part of the globe. No offense meant to you but you should seriously ponder at the peace and freedom to sit in peace and even post your comment. The enemy has an extreme ideology which uses violence to cause people into submission based on the extremes of a faith. That is their goal-to take over the world. We're not under invasion? Wake up! The attacks since 1990s has piled up and is now at our doorstep. To stop is to ignore the threat which is now at our doorstep. Obama has no choice but to deal with it.

Posted by George January 14, 10 02:42 PM

So interesting

Posted by BUYSE January 14, 10 03:14 PM

it very horible

Posted by KENZA January 19, 10 10:14 AM


Posted by Sameer January 20, 10 12:32 PM

#24 is a poser ! Look at me, I'm Rambo !

Posted by joohoois January 20, 10 05:49 PM

I can see the importance of capturing these moments in this country because there are so many lives at stake here. Excellent captures to say the least. The horses in # 27 is a very moving photo. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Paul Enns January 24, 10 10:56 PM

the best one 43

Posted by Alberto January 26, 10 08:46 AM

#38 At least Taliban got one thing right.

Posted by Soheil January 28, 10 12:01 PM

Number 36. I was lucky enough to call Gary my friend. He was such a good person... his mother did a wonderful job of raising a true gentleman. I cherish the memories I made with Gary. I truly miss him.

Posted by H.A. February 2, 10 06:49 PM
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