Keating, Fritsche, Lowell, Bostick, Cherry-Beasley. The list goes on and on. Almost every coalition forces'' camp in Afghanistan is named for a life cut short.

Officers give briefings in front of plaques bearing the photographs of the dead. Camps are rechristened to memorialize their names. And flags are rarely seen fluttering at the top of their poles anymore.

The situation is getting worse. In recent months, coalition deaths here have outnumbered those in Iraq, and attacks in 2008 were up by 28 percent over the previous year, says Col. Skip Davis, strategic adviser to Gen. David McKiernan, who commands the approximately 70,000 troops in Afghanistan. A record 294 NATO soldiers were killed in Afghanistan last year; 155 were Americans, according to

One of the reasons for the mounting number of coalition casualties, explain General McKiernan''s staff, is the pressure not to hit civilians – coupled with the growing use of civilians either as proxy fighters or as human shields by the insurgents.

"In my area of operations, those doing much of the shooting and lobbing of rockets at our outposts are not, by and large, the enemy you might think they are," notes Maj. Matt McCollum, operations officer at Bostick, a Forward Operating Base (FOB) that oversees much of the volatile northeastern Kunar Province, which borders Pakistan.

Many are just local young men who have nothing to do and are being paid by the insurgents. "They do it for adventure, for the money, and just because they''ve been told it''s cool to fight foreigners. It gets them street cred points."