COVER STORYVolatile Afghan district has soldiers on edgeOne minute, soldiers were walking back from a patrol in the nearby village of Nakam. Their outpost was in sight. "My thought was, ‘Look, we are almost home,’" said Pfc. Jordan Topai, 19, of Grand Junction, Colo. "The next minute there’s lots of noise. I could feel heat on my neck." • StorySome troops see closure of base as a symbolic end to their time in IraqAs U.S. troops in Forward Operating Base Summerall, Iraq and at dozens of other bases across the country close down their posts or turn them over to the Iraqi military amid a summerlong thinning of forces, the memorials are one more thing that has to go. Iraqis, by and large, have little interest in paying homage to the sacrifices of American soldiers, and after seven years U.S. troops are working to leave behind as little reminder as possible that they were ever here. • Story

GIs retrain Congo troops known for being violentIn a region where intimidation is used by soldiers and the rebels they fight, the U.S. Special Operations Command Africa troops offer plenty of traditional soldiering instruction. For now, the team of about 25 Americans is focused on small-unit tactics, medical care, logistics support and communications. Soon they also will enlist alternative methods to reform a military in disarray. •Story

Will Seoul American Middle School be fixed?One teacher checks the glue traps in her classroom for live rats each morning before students arrive. Another works in a building that sometimes stinks of raw sewage. And during the winter, some of the classrooms on this patchwork campus are so cold that students have to wear hats and gloves indoors. • Story

Stickin’ with itThe goal goes to Methuselah.” I was feeling good about myself after scoring during an early season Canada Ball Hockey Korea game when I heard that comment from the official scorer’s area of the rink. • Story

38-year Army historian retiresPvt. Bruce Siemon’s first day on duty in Germany began promisingly. ‘‘Come on in," said his new sergeant. "Have a beer." Siemon knew he wasn’t in New Jersey anymore. It was 1953, in Schwetzingen, in the occupation Army of a still-devastated country. It was a good time to be an American. "You really were king of the hill," Siemon said. • Story

Spouse CallsA weekly column in Stripes' Scene magazine by Terri Barnes, a military wife and mother of three who lives and writes in Germany. • This week's column • Terri Barnes' blog

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