Photo Essays | Security | South Asia

Afghanistan: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Winter of War

Despite the end of NATO combat operations in Afghanistan, the war rages on as intensely as ever — even in winter.

Franz-Stefan Gady
Afghanistan: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Winter of War

Soldiers of the Afghan National Army use a recoilless SPG-9 Kopje gun to fire on Islamic State (IS) positions in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province.

Credit: Franz-Stefan Gady for The Diplomat
Afghanistan: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Winter of War

Two Afghan National Army soldiers return from a firefight with IS militants in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province.

Credit: Franz-Stefan Gady for The Diplomat
Afghanistan: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Winter of War

Members of the Afghan National Police in a village recently liberated from IS in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province.

Credit: Franz-Stefan Gady for The Diplomat
Afghanistan: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Winter of War

An Afghan National Army sniper overlooking a contested village in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province.

Credit: Franz-Stefan Gady for The Diplomat
Afghanistan: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Winter of War

“We kicked their asses today!,” exclaimed Captain Zabiullah, an Afghan National Army company commander, when talking to the The Diplomat in a recently liberated farmhouse in an Afghan village near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in Nangarhar province.

Credit: Franz-Stefan Gady for The Diplomat
Afghanistan: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Winter of War

Inhabitants of a small farming village wrested from the hands of the Islamic State in Achin district in Nangarhar.

Credit: Franz-Stefan Gady for The Diplomat
Afghanistan: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Winter of War

Impromptu memorial to two U.S. service members, two Royal Air Force personnel, and one French civilian contractor killed in a helicopter crash at the headquarters of NATO’s “Resolute Support” mission in Kabul in October 2015.

Credit: Franz-Stefan Gady for The Diplomat
Afghanistan: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Winter of War

Memorial service for the two U.S. service members, two Royal Air Force personnel, and one French civilian contractor killed in a helicopter crash at the headquarters of NATO’s “Resolute Support” mission in Kabul in October 2015.

Credit: Franz-Stefan Gady for The Diplomat
Afghanistan: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Winter of War

A general of the Royal Air Force awarding the NATO medal to Bulgarian troops at NATO’s “Resolute Support” headquarters in Kabul.

Credit: Franz-Stefan Gady for The Diplomat
Afghanistan: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Winter of War

Flying over snowy peaks en route to Kandahar City aboard a civilian contractor plane.

Credit: Franz-Stefan Gady for The Diplomat
Afghanistan: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Winter of War

A night flight over Kabul aboard a Royal Air Force helicopter.

Credit: Franz-Stefan Gady for The Diplomat
Afghanistan: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Winter of War

A pre-patrol briefing of Romanian troops at a NATO base in Kandahar province.

Credit: Franz-Stefan Gady for The Diplomat
Afghanistan: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Winter of War

A NATO convoy consisting of a number of Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles patrolling the security perimeter of Kandahar Air Field, a NATO base in Kandahar province.

Credit: Franz-Stefan Gady for The Diplomat
Afghanistan: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Winter of War

Romanian soldiers listening in during a so-called “Key Leader Engagement” meeting at an Afghan National Police outpost in Kandahar province.

Credit: Franz-Stefan Gady for The Diplomat
Afghanistan: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Winter of War

Two members of the Afghan National Police listening in during a meeting with Romanian soldiers at an Afghan National Police outpost in Kandahar province.

Credit: Franz-Stefan Gady for The Diplomat
Afghanistan: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Winter of War

An American soldier providing security during a security “Shura” held at the governor’s palace in Kandahar City, the capital of Kandahar province.

Credit: Franz-Stefan Gady for The Diplomat
Afghanistan: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Winter of War

An Afghan National Army soldier providing security during a security “Shura” held at the governor’s palace in Kandahar City, the capital of Kandahar province.

Credit: Franz-Stefan Gady for The Diplomat
Afghanistan: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Winter of War

A C-130 Hercules transport aircraft stationed at Bagram Air Field, the United States’ largest military installation in Afghanistan.

Credit: Franz-Stefan Gady for The Diplomat

The Diplomat‘s Franz-Stefan Gady spent the month of December in Afghanistan, where he embedded with the Afghan National Army’s 201st corps in Nangarhar and with the NATO “Resolute Support” Mission in Kabul, Kandahar, and Parwan provinces.

The following photo essay consists of pictures taken while traveling the country in December 2015. Among other things, the photos depict military operations of the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANSDF) against Islamic State militants in Achin district, Nangarhar province. They also try to show the human toll the war still takes on NATO personnel in the country, despite an official end of NATO combat operations in 2014.

Gady’s reports for The Diplomat from Afghanistan include “How NATO Advises Afghanistan’s National Security Forces“, “Revenge of the Taliban: The Story of the Afghan Soldier Mumtaz,” “Afghanistan: US Air Force’s Mission Has Not Changed,” and “Next Stop Jalalabad: Traveling on One of the World’s Most Dangerous Roads.” He also wrote a first-hand account of his experience at the frontline with ANSDF fighting the Islamic State in Achin district, Nangarhar province, which was published in the January issue of The Diplomat Magazine. Gady also recently shared his experience in the country with Ankit Panda on an Asia Geopolitics podcast.