This Fourth of July is a special one for 44 soldiers and Marines serving in Afghanistan. They hail from 24 different countries and range in age from 19 to 34. But they have one thing in common: They were naturalized as U.S. citizens in a ceremony last week.
On Independence Day, we continue an occasional series, Those Who Serve, with a story about an Army captain who grew up hearing about the exploits of his grandfathers in Asia during World War II. Now he's a captain serving in Afghanistan.
Despite billions of dollars in projects over the past decade, only about one-third of the Afghan population has access to regular power. The country imports electricity, but existing distribution lines aren't adequate. The lack of a reliable power supply is severely limiting economic growth.
In his new book Little America, Washington Post correspondent RajivChandrasekaran traces the decision-making process by senior American military officials during the 2009 troop surge in Afghanistan and analyzes their struggle to develop successful policies on the ground.
Afghanistan's anemic economy has been propped up for the past decade by international aid. But as NATO troops draw down, international assistance is also shrinking, which could put many jobs at risk and lead skilled Afghans to look elsewhere for work.
NATO supply convoys into Afghanistan are using a long, slow and expensive route through Central Asia after Pakistan closed its border last year. Trucks driving high in the Hindu Kush on crumbling roads pass through the Soviet-built Salang Tunnel, where lines of waiting traffic often stretch 10 miles.
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