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Photos: Afghan soldiers bear brunt of attacks as war winds down

The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan originally scheduled for 2014 was extended through the end of this year. It’s one of the realities of the long-standing war and part of the effort to preserve hard-fought gains.

President Barack Obama announced the change of plans during Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s visit in March, saying he would keep 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan through the end of 2015 for counterterrorism efforts, rather than reducing the number to 5,500 as formerly planned.

The remaining U.S. troops have transitioned from a combat to a training and support role. Afghan police and army forces are now conducting patrols and taking hits from insurgents.

Photographer Ben Brody, part of a team of four journalists with the GroundTruth Project reporting in Afghanistan, worked alongside the U.S. military to document the handover of security to the Afghan army and police.

Surrounded by Afghan police and neighbors, a man injured by an explosive device cries near the body of his sister-in-law who was killed in the same blast near Bayanzay in Zabul Province. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

Surrounded by Afghan police and neighbors, a man injured by an explosive device cries near the body of his sister-in-law who was killed in the same blast near Bayanzay in Zabul Province. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

Afghan police officers in Zabul's Arghandab District inspect the damage to two police vehicles that were destroyed by improvised explosive devices. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

Afghan police officers in Zabul’s Arghandab District inspect the damage to two police vehicles that were destroyed by improvised explosive devices. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

A U.S. patrol passes through Talukan's bazaar in Panjwayi District in Kandahar. Stores were looted the previous night. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

A U.S. patrol passes through Talukan’s bazaar in Panjwayi District in Kandahar. Stores were looted the previous night. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

An Afghan security guard is wounded after an attack on his convoy near Kandahar's ancient Howz-e Madad bazaar in Zhari District in Kandahar Province. He was eventually sent to a local hospital. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

An Afghan security guard is wounded after an attack on his convoy near Kandahar’s ancient Howz-e Madad bazaar in Zhari District in Kandahar Province. He was eventually sent to a local hospital. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

An Afghan soldier rests after guard duty in Zabul Province. Afghan and Romanian soldiers are stationed at checkpoints along a highway in Zabul that winds through Taliban-controlled mountains. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

An Afghan soldier rests after guard duty in Zabul Province. Afghan and Romanian soldiers are stationed at checkpoints along a highway in Zabul that winds through Taliban-controlled mountains. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

Afghan soldiers stand in formation as they wait for their commander before conducting patrols in Zabul using American-made armored vehicles. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

Afghan soldiers stand in formation as they wait for their commander before conducting patrols in Zabul using American-made armored vehicles. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

Terry Arsenault, a private military contractor with Tundra Group, leads Afghan police officers to the site of a bomb strike that killed a young woman near Combat Outpost Mizan in Zabul. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

Terry Arsenault, a private military contractor with Tundra Group, leads Afghan police officers to the site of a bomb strike that killed a young woman near Combat Outpost Mizan in Zabul. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

An Afghan soldier plays dead during a training exercise at Camp Hero in Kandahar. Despite its members getting paid three times the national average, the Afghan military has a high attrition rate due to desertion and combat deaths. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

An Afghan soldier plays dead during a training exercise at Camp Hero in Kandahar. Despite its members getting paid three times the national average, the Afghan military has a high attrition rate due to desertion and combat deaths. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

At Combat Outpost Sangsar in Kandahar, soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division fire mortar rounds at nearby Taliban positions. Soldiers faced regular attacks at the outpost. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

At Combat Outpost Sangsar in Kandahar, soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division fire mortar rounds at nearby Taliban positions. Soldiers faced regular attacks at the outpost. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Walt Jones, a Vietnam veteran, flies a Black Hawk helicopter over the mountains of Zabul Province in southern Afghanistan. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Walt Jones, a Vietnam veteran, flies a Black Hawk helicopter over the mountains of Zabul Province in southern Afghanistan. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

Afghan and American troops walk through grape plants in Kandahar's restive Zhari District in the stifling heat. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

Afghan and American troops walk through grape plants in Kandahar’s restive Zhari District in the stifling heat. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

An interpreter for the U.S. Army hands out candy to local children at a rural gas station in Zabul Province in southern Afghanistan. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

An interpreter for the U.S. Army hands out candy to local children at a rural gas station in Zabul Province in southern Afghanistan. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

Before destroying a roadside bomb in Panjwayi, southern Afghanistan, 1st Sgt. David Fiske chases sheep away from the blast area. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

Before destroying a roadside bomb in Panjwayi, southern Afghanistan, 1st Sgt. David Fiske chases sheep away from the blast area. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

Infantrymen joke around during downtime at Forward Operating Base Tagab in Kapisa Province in northeastern Afghanistan. As the United States draws down its forces, soldiers no longer conduct combat patrols so they have more hours on base to lift weights. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

Infantrymen joke around during downtime at Forward Operating Base Tagab in Kapisa Province in northeastern Afghanistan. As the United States draws down its forces, soldiers no longer conduct combat patrols so they have more hours on base to lift weights. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

At Bagram Airfield, a mural on a blast wall connects the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States to the fight in Afghanistan. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

At Bagram Airfield, a mural on a blast wall connects the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States to the fight in Afghanistan. Photo by Ben Brody/The GroundTruth Project

On Monday’s PBS NewsHour, GroundTruth reports on the gains and losses in Afghanistan after 14 years of war.

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