Editors note: This rendition of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement Clarke Moore was written by Task & Purpose senior reporter James Clark, who included photos he took during his 2011 deployment to Kajaki and Sangin, Afghanistan with 1st Battalion, 6th Marines.

'Twas the night before Christmas,

When all through the war zone,

Not a creature was stirring, not even a drone

Coyote brown beanies were donned with care,

In the hopes that first sergeant would not be there

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A number of oversights may have contributed to the Oct. 4 death of a U.S. Army National Guard explosive ordnance disposal technician in Afghanistan's Helmand province, the New York Times reports.

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On the 24th of May, dozens of Taliban leaders were congregating in a building located in the Musa Qala district of Afghanistan. The U.S. military authorized a M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System strike on the meeting place, which killed at least 50 Taliban insurgents, according to U.S. military officials in Afghanistan.

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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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U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Lucas Hopkins

The Marines in southern Afghanistan are tasked with helping Afghan security forces from inside the wire, but their commander said it is also possible for them to go into combat.

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In mid-November, a group of elite Taliban commandos outfitted with U.S-made assault weapons and night-vision goggles wiped out dozens of Afghan security forces in a series of brazen raids across southern and western Afghanistan. The tactics and gear utilized by the so-called Red Unit sent a wave of anxiety through U.S. and Afghan defense officials already struggling to beat back the rising tide of a Taliban resurgence since the official end of NATO combat operations in 2014.

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