A quick study in contrasts.

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Channing Bergen, 19, from Waterloo, Wisc., and Sgt. Robert Cronk, 25, from Baroda, Mich., a rifleman and a combat engineer with 2nd Platoon, India Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, work to open a door for Afghan National Army soldiers searching shops for illegal drugs and improvised explosive device components during Operation Sandman.

Safar Bazaar was once a hotbed for insurgents, its shops teeming with illegal drugs and streets laden with improvised explosive devices. Over the last two years, four Marine infantry battalions and their Afghan National Security Forces counterparts have labored to make it safe. Today, the buzzing bazaar is the commercial hub of southern Garmsir district. Thousands of Afghans from around the district travel to the bazaar each week to purchase goods.

(Photo by Corporal Reece Lodder, 28 December 2011.)

Marines sweep uncharted areas of Khan-Neshin during Operation Highland Thunder [Image 1 of 11] by DVIDSHUB on Flickr.

Corpsman Up by United States Marine Corps Official Page on Flickr.

Run For a Brother by United States Marine Corps Official Page on Flickr.

Evening Quickie #soldierporn: Ingots of Iron.

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Garrett Reed (left), a 22-year-old squad automatic weapon gunner from Plano, Texas, and Sgt. Roger Merritt, a 26-year-old squad leader from Horn Lake, Miss., assigned to the 81 mm Mortar Platoon, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, talk as they return to Patrol Base 00 following a security patrol. Merritt and Reed are among the faces of a historic transition. They were unique ingredients in the melting pot of service members that prepared the Afghan National Security Forces to assume lead security responsibility in Helmand province’s Garmsir district.

(Photo by Corporal Reece Lodder, 8 FEB 2012.)

Marines honor, remember fallen brother in southern Helmand [Image 10 of 16] by DVIDSHUB on Flickr.

Corpsman proves valuable to team in Afghanistan by III Marine Expeditionary Force/MCI Pacific on Flickr.

Eagle Storm by United States Marine Corps Official Page on Flickr.

Drive Until You Lose The Road.

U.S. Marines from 2nd Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment stand atop Patrol Base Barcha following a security patrol here. The Marines pictured (left to right) are Lance Cpl. James Blomstran and his IED detection dog Sage, Sgt. Matt Garst and Lance Cpls. Ryan Gerrity and Nicholas Dumke.

The four Marines saved nine Afghans from a canal during a Dec. 2 night patrol. Near the end of their patrol, a vehicle carrying an Afghan family struck an Afghan National Army soldier and sent both plunging into the frigid canal. The ANA soldiers provided security while the 2nd Platoon Marines braved the swiftly moving current to recover the accident victims. Blomstran, 22, is from Cortland, Ohio; Garst, 23, is from Charlotte, N.C.; Gerrity, 21, is from Cranford, N.J.; and Dumke, 20, is from Huron, S.D.

(Photo by Corporal Reece Lodder, 12 December 2011.)

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie by United States Marine Corps Official Page on Flickr.

Best Friends to the End by United States Marine Corps Official Page on Flickr.

USMC Corporal Richard A. Rivera. 10 August 2012.

Died in Garmsir, Afghanistan, after being shot by an Afghan civilian. Rivera was assigned to Headquarters Company, 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Deployed as attachment to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp Lejeune, NC.

The Detectors by United States Marine Corps Official Page on Flickr.