Faces and stories of a 10-year war

By Kathy Gannon

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 4 2011 10:15 p.m. MDT

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan — The United States led the war in Afghanistan, but the stakes — and the losses — are high for all.

At least 1,782 American soldiers have died over the past decade. NATO has lost 954 soldiers, with Germany supplying the biggest contingent after the U.S. and Britain.

The Afghan National Army has suffered more than 1,500 deaths. And while there are no reliable figures for how many insurgents have been killed, the estimate is more than 10,000.

In the meantime, the Afghan people are caught in the middle. About 2,930 civilians have been killed in bombing raids by the U.S. and NATO, while another 7,686 have been killed by insurgents, according to estimates from the United Nations and Human Rights Watch.

Here, the Associated Press puts a face to several sides of the war.

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ALL IN THE FAMILY: KYLE MCCLINTOCK, 23, U.S. soldier

KABUL — Growing up, Pfc. Kyle McClintock hated his Mom and Dad for being Army reservists because they were gone for long stretches. His father fought in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm, and his mother served in Afghanistan.

Today, McClintock, a native of Rockford, Ill., is the second generation of his family to fight in Afghanistan, in what is by some measures the longest war the U.S. has fought.

"I don't know why my life is the same as theirs, but I like it now," McClintock says. "Now I understand."

The United States, with its 120,000 soldiers, is the largest fighting force on the ground. It has also suffered the most casualties. In 10 years, 1,782 American men and women have died in Afghanistan, and hundreds more were wounded.

McClintock was only 13 when terrorists headquartered in Afghanistan carried out the Sept. 11, 2001 assault on New York and Washington. Less than one month later, on Oct. 7, the U.S. and its allies launched Operation Enduring Freedom to hunt down the Taliban and al-Qaida.

McClintock's brother and cousins joined the military, and he dressed up as a soldier nearly every Halloween. When he married, he told his wife the Army was his calling.

He did his basic training in Kentucky. Then he left for Germany, where he was born, to prepare for Afghanistan.

Three months into his first deployment, McClintock, 23, is standing guard at an outpost on Afghan mountain for a clear view of the Pakistani border, through which terrorists enter. It's his first time in a war zone. His parents rarely spoke of what they saw and did in the military.

"It wasn't really dinnertime conversation," he says.

But so far combat has been restricted to the odd indirect rocket fire. "It's a lot better than I thought it would be," he says.

There's the Internet, and he can make the occasional call to his wife. He passes countless hours playing games.

It's the physical activity that's grueling, says McClintock. Most of the soldiers of the 172 Infantry Brigade are accustomed to working on and with tanks, not hiking up mountains on foot.

"We climb mountains, we are like ... mountain goats. The mountains are horrible," he says. "There is no way to describe how spent you are after missions."

McClintock thinks his parents are proud of him. But he still hasn't decided whether to make the military his career, as they did. One thing is certain in his mind: He won't encourage his 19-month-old son to be the next generation of soldier in the family.

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