Combat Obscura/Miles Lagoze

“Okay buddy, how ya doing today?" a Marine asks as he stands over the body of a dead Afghan man. “You look like you just got fucked."

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Rambo: First Blood Part II

When it comes to war movies, the fast-paced action blockbusters that have defined American pop culture since the ‘80s have a bad reputation: massive explosions, impossible marksmanship, and nobody ever, ever runs out of ammo. Yes, it’s a hole the genre is finally starting to dig out of with incredible technical expertise on display in more recent Hollywood projects like John Wick  and 13 Hours, or in TV miniseries like History Channel's SIX. But if you want proof that this wasn’t always the case, just look back a few decades to the age of “unlimited ammo.”

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Associated Press photo by Brennan Linsley

In late 2009, President Barack Obama announced a surge of troops in Afghanistan. In the first full year of that operation, 2010, of the nearly 500 U.S. troop deaths in Afghanistan, more than half were from Helmand province. It was the deadliest year of the war for American troops and also the deadliest in year in the province.

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Army photo by Pfc. Cameron Boyd

Training can only teach you so much. There are certain things that you can’t understand unless you’ve lived it. Surviving a firefight is one of those things. The tension is high, and adrenaline fuels your every move. Every moment is life and death as grenades fly and bullets whistle past your ears.

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In November 2009, President Barack Obama announced that 30,000 additional U.S. troops would be sent to Afghanistan. Several thousand Marines were deployed to opium-rich Helmand province where the Taliban-held stronghold of Marjah was to be the proving ground for counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan. On Feb. 13, 2010, Marine and coalition forces launched an all out assault on Marjah. The attack was highly publicized and the city's diehard Taliban defenders had spent the previous month's turning Marjah into a heavily mined and well defended stronghold.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Steven Fox//Photo illustration by Matt Battaglia

While conducting village stability operations in the Upper Gereshk Valley, of Helmand province Afghanistan, a Marine Special Operations Team with 1st Marine Special Operation Battalion came under heavy fire.

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