After the end of the surge, and with France accelerating its troop withdrawal, the number of NATO forces in Afghanistan is beginning to drop. Fewer than 70,000 American troops remain in the country now, and the Afghan National Army has grown to nearly 200,000 soldiers. However, the desertion and attrition rates among Afghan soldiers is extremely high, jeopardizing the future of the current government as NATO heads toward its drawdown in 2014. The current war in Afghanistan has become a political talking point in the presidential election, yet there are hundreds of thousands for whom it is part of daily life, and has been for more than a decade. These photos show just a glimpse of that experience over the past month, part of the ongoing series here on Afghanistan. A soldier from 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment (The Vikings) stands to attention as his regiment receives their Afghanistan Operational Service Medal at Picton Barracks in Bulford, England, on November 1, 2012. The parade was the first in a series of events marking the end of their successful six-month deployment to Afghanistan as part of Task Force Helmand. The parade comes during the same week that two more British soldiers were shot dead at a checkpoint in Afghanistan by a man wearing a local police uniform. An Alaska Air National Guardsman embraces his son on the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson flightline after returning from Afghanistan. Thirty citizen-Airmen of the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Wing arrived in Alaska on October 17 after deploying this May in support of combat search and rescue.