File - Members of the U.S. 159 Combat Aviation Brigade eat lunch and play with a remote control helicopter while waiting for a mission at Bagram Airfield.
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At the sprawling U.S. military base in the middle of the Afghan desert, sometimes it's difficult to tell if there's a war going on.As NATO's U.S.-led force prepares to depart by December, more and more troops are "behind the wire" on heavily guarded bases, with Afghan forces now taking charge of the fight against Taliban insurgents.Other soldiers, including those who spend time outside the big bases, disagreed.Home to thousands of soldiers and civilians and round-the-clock military flights, Kandahar and Bagram resemble minicities, with strict rules that seem out of place in a war zone.While soldiers must carry their assault rifles around the base, the speed limit is a modest 25 kilometers an hour and seatbelts must be worn at all times. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former NATO commander in Afghanistan who oversaw a troop "surge" in 2010, disapproved of the Kandahar boardwalk and other such amenities, favoring a more austere setting for troops to focus on the life-and-death mission at hand.
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