Many of the additional 30,000 U.S. troops President Obama plans to send to Afghanistan could end up in the southern part of the country. That area has been particularly dangerous for troops because of the proliferation of IEDs. In October, NPR photographer David Gilkey spent time embedded with an Army Medical Evacuation team in the area.
Chief Warrant Officer Jim Drake is a medevac helicopter pilot who says that rescuing lives in Afghanistan, whether they're American or Afghan, is significant to the mission. "Rather than just guys with guns who are here to kill and force them to bend to our will — we're here, we're helping these people," he says.