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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U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mike MacLeod

In Afghanistan, warm weather means combat. The snow melts, the opium harvest is over, and part-time fighters and hardliners emerge from hiding to flood the country with violence. Referred to as “the fighting season,” it’s a time of year beginning in the spring and stretching into summer when violence reaches its peak with profits from the year’s opium harvest funding insurgency operations.

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