It has been a tumultuous year for the U.S. Armed Services, one that included the complete withdrawal of troops from Iraq and preparations for a dramatic drawdown of combat troops in Afghanistan, the end of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, the removal of a dictator in Libya, and a strategic pivot to Asia. At the same time, the American military has weathered a scandal over burning Qurans in Afghanistan and stared down the barrel of a looming budget fight in Congress.
For Memorial Day, FP takes a look at the last year in the life of the troops on the front lines, from young cadets on their graduation day to wounded veterans learning to live with disabilities.
Above, U.S. Marine Capt. Tom Kearns, of Bordentown, NJ, gets a fist bump while patrolling through a village near Forward Operating Base Zeebrugge near Kajaki, Afghanistan. The Marines were responsible for securing the area around the Kajaki Dam on the Helmand River.