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Sixteen years. It has now been over 16 years since the United States began military operations in Afghanistan. At the beginning of those operations, as I watched friends deploy to the initial fighting, I would have found the idea that I would deploy there at the beginning of a massive buildup of American troops in 2009, or that we would still be there in 2017, inconceivable. But like Vizzini, the evil mastermind and kidnapper from Princess Bride, I had a lot to learn about the meaning of “inconceivable.”

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Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

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And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

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Editor’s Note: This is the first edition of a new Task & Purpose column called “Swamp Warfare,” in which Jason Dempsey and other thought leaders examine the growing intersection of military, politics, and policy in the United States.

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