The surge against Taliban forces in Afghanistan has taken a toll on U.S. and coalition troops, and their efforts aren't expected to end anytime soon.
"We cannot allow either Afghanistan or Pakistan to be a safe haven for al-Qaeda," said President Barack Obama.
As troops work to root out Taliban insurgents in advance of the nation's August elections, more of their relatives back home in the U.S. have received coffins.
On July 11, two U.S. Marines were killed in Helmand province, bringing the death toll this year to 105.
"It is with great sorrow that we extend our condolences to their families and their friends and their bravery will not be forgotten," said Lt. Commander Christine Sidenstricker.
Last week, insurgents killed the highest number of coalition troops since the war in Afghanistan began.
"It's wearing, but we are all prepared for it, very well prepared for it," said Lt. Col. Gus Fair, of the Light Dragoons battle group. "For the time being, heads are high."
But the voices of opposition in the United Kingdom --America's strongest ally-- have grown louder.
Critics of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said a shortage of supplies like helicopters was just one of several major problems.
"I don't think we have enough troops," said defense analyst Chris Bellamy. "The troops batten down at night. This means the Taliban can move around the countryside and place these things and the next day, we go out."
Brown said progress has been made, but that troop numbers will be reviewed.
The guerrilla-style warfare is exhausting and deadly.
Troops have also dealt with corrupt Afghan police officers, which some villagers say are as bad, if not worse, than the Taliban.
U.S. troops have sent some officers away for more training as they work to professionalize the force.
Meanwhile, both President Obama and Prime Minister Brown warned there are more tough weeks ahead.
*Originally Published July 13, 2009