Mural left behind in Camp Buehring by an unknown engineering unit (2019 photo by Eric Strand)

Camp Buehring is a long way from Minnesota. Grafted onto the middle of the Kuwaiti desert, the base heats up to 125 degrees or more in the dry season and gets drenched by six-inch floodwaters in the rainy season. For Sgt. Eric Strand, a former finance soldier with the Minnesota National Guard, it was also a boring place to spend a deployment — until he took a long hard look at the twelve-foot high concrete walls surrounding him.

The walls, called Texas barriers or T-walls, are resistant to rocket and mortar attacks, making them a ubiquitous protective feature on the U.S. military bases that have sprung up around the world as part of the Global War on Terror. T-walls also make for great canvases, as evidenced by the countless service members who have painted vivid murals on the barriers in the years since the Global War on Terror began.

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Green Berets assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) conduct shooting drills at a Mauritanian range during Flintlock 2019, Feb. 15, 2019 in Atar, Mauritania. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Steven Lewis)

The United States plans on ramping up counterterrorism efforts in the Sahel region of Africa in response to an alarming rise in violent extremism there, Foreign Policy reports.

The Sahel includes Niger, where four U.S. Army Special Forces personnel were killed in a deadly October 2017 ambush carried out by Islamic extremists.

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Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is pictured as he speaks with French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe (not pictured) during a dinner at the Hotel de Matignon in Paris, France November 21, 2018. (Reuters/Lucas Barioulet)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In the years after 9/11, former U.S. counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke warned Congress that the country needed more expansive spying powers to prevent another catastrophe. Five years after leaving government, he shopped the same idea to an enthusiastic partner: an Arab monarchy with deep pockets.

In 2008, Clarke went to work as a consultant guiding the United Arab Emirates as it created a cyber surveillance capability that would utilize top American intelligence contractors to help monitor threats against the tiny nation.

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The number of people killed by the Global War on Terror now stands at 801,000, nearly half of which were likely civilians, according to new research conducted by Brown University's Costs of War project.

Though the numbers are staggering, it may not tell the whole story, researchers warn. Since the study only tallied the number of direct war deaths (including drone strikes and IEDs), the real death toll may be much higher. Indirect deaths, such as veteran suicides or deaths caused by lack of access to food, water, medicine and/or related infrastructure, remain uncounted; and some direct combat deaths just haven't been recorded, researchers said.

"Indeed, we may never know the total direct death toll in these wars," Brown researchers observed in a 2018 paper. "For example, tens of thousands of civilians may have died in retaking Mosul and other cities from ISIS but their bodies have likely not been recovered."

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This Veterans Day, two post-9/11 veterans-turned congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation to have a memorial commemorating the Global War on Terrorism built on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

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U.S. Army cavalrymen from 1st Platoon, Bulldog Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment; walk by some of the qalat buildings of Charkh District while on their way into the village of Paspajak, Logar province, Afghanistan, June 20. (U.S. Army photo)

The majority of U.S. military veterans say America's most recent wars were not worth fighting, according to the results of a recent Pew Research Center survey published ahead of Veterans Day.

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