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Back in Kabul, Afghanistan

Lester Holt in Kabul

 

 I'm back in Kabul tonight for the first time in almost two years.

When I arrived here in November 2010 the United States had just completed the "troop surge" --  to a strength of 101,000 troops. That surge officially ended here on Friday, and as I stepped off the plane this morning there were 68,000 Americans troops on the ground here, fighting an 11-year-old war  that has proven no less deadly to U.S. forces.

The ugly trend in the war that has captured our attention this year is the rise in the number of so-called "insider attacks," instances where Afghan forces have turned their weapons against American and other coalition troops. Twenty percent of coalition casualties this year have been the result of such attacks. Tonight on NBC Nightly News we'll meet a Long Island, N.Y., family whose son, a Marine lance corporal, was killed earlier this month by an aide to a local Afghan police commander.

The Buckley family's anguish is mixed with anger because they believe nothing was done to prevent the attack that killed their son, Greg. They say he spoke to them about an increasingly menacing attitude he and his fellow Marines were sensing among their Afghan training partners, and the fear that his superiors were ignoring the threat.

It's a raw and highly emotional interview with a family still trying to process the war their son was fighting. In a few weeks we will begin the 12th year of America's longest war.  I plan to spend the next seven days here joining my colleagues Richard Engel and Atia Abawi in examining what has been accomplished in Afghanistan, what can be sustained after the 2014 American troop withdrawal, and what's been the price in American lives.