Behind all the numbers of troops on the ground and troops killed are real people with real lives.
So it was with great anxiety that families, this week, said goodbye to their loved ones leaving for the war.
At Fort Snelling, Minn., the Army Reserve's 372nd Engineer Brigade prepared to leave for a month of training before joining the war in Afghanistan.
Regan Beck had experienced it all before.
"It scares me and he's going to a much more dangerous area than before," she said.
Her husband, Sgt. First Class Jeff Beck, fought in Afghanistan five years ago. he's now heading back for another tour of duty.
"You know it's never easy, but at the same time I kind of know what to expect," Sgt. Beck said.
This time, however, the couple has a two children-- 10-year-old Ethen and two-year-old Aubry.
The war has also become much deadlier.
"I think it's more terrorists and more influence that way towards us," Sgt. Beck said. "So now it's one more danger that I'm going to look out for."
Then, he can see his children again.
"It worries me, but what can I do? We just have to move on and pray and hope that he comes home safe like everybody else," Beck's wife said.
Reservist Troy Hoistad must leave behind his wife and children as well.
"[There's] a lot of stuff going on," he said. "Yeah, it's going to be tough."
"It's hard on the kids. It's hard on me knowing that he's going to a place where so many people are making the ultimate sacrifice," his wife, Tracy Page, added.
Another American family has just learned that it has paid that ultimate sacrifice. Army ranger Eric Hario of Monroe, Mich., just 19 years old, was killed in a 20-hour firefight. His former football coach says the team will honor his memory.
"We're going to put patches on our jerseys-- the Army Ranger patch," said coach Steve Pollzie. "So that we will always remember this moment and what he has done for us."