2/14/2013 Layadira, Afghanistan
Afghan Army soldiers spoke with a poppy farmer in the small hamlet of Layadira in Pashmul, Kandahar Province, as Lt. Melin of 3rd Bat. 1st Armored Div. listened in.

President Obama announced in Tuesday’s State of the Union address that an additional 34,000 troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2013, reducing the number of combat troops even further after reductions in 2012. In Kandahar Province, where US forces have consistently seen combat during the warmer summer months while other areas of the country have become more secure, troops from the 3rd Battalion, 1st Armored Division, currently deployed across the Zharay district are preparing for another summer of fighting with the Taliban, while at the same time, closing positions that were established at the height of the surge, and transferring them to Afghan National Army, who’s battle readiness will likely be tested in the months to come.