Army's 101st pays high price for Afghan surge year

By KRISTIN M. HALL | June 5, 2011 | 10:27 AM EDT

JALALABAD, Afghanistan (AP) — The soldiers of the Army's famed 101st Airborne Division deployed to Afghanistan confident their counterinsurgency expertise would once again turn a surge strategy into a success. But they are headed home uncertain of lasting changes on the battlefield.

Doubts remain in the military that security in Afghanistan can last without a significant U.S. military presence for years.

What progress was made in improving security came at a high price: The Screaming Eagles lost 131 soldiers, the most killed in a single deployment for the unit since Vietnam. Many more were wounded or injured.

In the eyes of many of the troops returning to Fort Campbell on the Kentucky-Tennessee line, they spent the year chasing ghosts across mountain ridges and feeling frustrated by the slow pace of the nearly 10-year war.