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Soldiers of the Afghan National Army

In southern Afghanistan, the focus of the U.S. war effort, nearly all the Afghan soldiers are foreigners too. Photographer Kevin Frayer shows these soldiers in a series of portraits.

On July 11 AP photographer Kevin Frayer photographed members of the Afghan National Army after a patrol in the volatile Arghandab Valley, near Kandahar City, southern Afghanistan

In this area, the focus of the U.S. war effort, nearly all the Afghan soldiers are foreigners too and most don't speak the local language. They have to communicate through interpreters hired for the Americans.

Despite ethnic quotas and recruiting drives, the Afghan army is still dominated by northern minorities who were oppressed by the Taliban. Nearly all Taliban are ethnic Pashtuns. Although many Pashtuns, the country's biggest ethnic community, are not connected to the Taliban, the rift between northerners and the southern Pashtuns runs deep.

Mirzali, a Pashtun from Jalalabad, eastern Afghanistan, poses with his weapon. Kevin Frayer / AP
An ethnic Tajik from Samangar, northern Afghanistan. Kevin Frayer / AP
An ethnic Turkmeni from Jozjan, northern Afghanistan. Kevin Frayer / AP
An ethnic Tajik from Baghlan. Kevin Frayer / AP
An ethnic Tajik from Badakshan, northern Afghanistan. Kevin Frayer / AP
An ethnic Tajik from Badakshan, northern Afghanistan. Kevin Frayer / AP
An ethnic Turkmeni from Jozjan, northern Afghanistan. Kevin Frayer / AP
An ethnic Tajik from Tahar, northern Afghanistan. Kevin Frayer / AP
An ethnic Tajik from Badakshan, northern Afghanistan. Kevin Frayer / AP
An ethnic Tajik from northern Afghanistan, northern Afghanistan. Kevin Frayer / AP