(KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan) -- From Afghanistan's forbidding mountains to the most remote villages, U.S. forces have been fighting a long, relentless battle to bring security to the Afghan people.
In Helmand and Kandahar, the two provinces where most of military and economic efforts are focused, there has been a sharp improvement in the lives of Afghans, but that has been more than offset by deterioration in other parts of the country.
"It's a very, very tough battlefield for our young company commanders, our young sergeants on the ground, making life and death decision every day," said Maj. Gen. John Campbell, commander of the 101st Airborne Division. Campbell commands all forces in the volatile eastern part of the country.
The toll on his troops has been staggering. In July, just five weeks into his tour, he told us 27 of his soldiers had been killed. In September, he said it was up to 76.
Today, Campbell said, it has reached 96.
"I've lost 96 heroes straight from the 101st and I've lost another 45 attachments from the 101st. So it's been a big toll," he said.
The toll is especially personal for some.
Sgt. Christian Gatison is a seasoned soldier, having served for 11 years, with two previous deployments in Iraq. This is his first deployment in Afghanistan.
He can't utter the name of his fallen friend, Sgt. Shaun Mittler, because it is too painful.
Mittler, a 32-year-old father of a young daughter from Austin, Texas, was killed this July in an enemy attack.
While Kabul is now relatively secure, with troops expected to begin thinning out there first in July 2011, it seems that all those stationed at remote combat outposts around the country know someone who has died.
Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio