ARGHANDAB VALLEY, Afghanistan (AP) — Metal containers. Tables laid for a meal in a hut. Endless lines of tents, and Black Hawk helicopters parked in the dust.

For U.S. troops in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan, the images of war are not just gunfights and patrols. They are also the mundane daily scenes of camp life.

A weathered Afghan flag. Family photographs above a cot. A makeshift memorial to a fallen friend, with laundry hanging alongside, in a desolate combat outpost.

Or, the ever present air-conditioners, helping to blunt the scorching heat of Afghanistan's south. The famous photo by Joe Rosenthal showing Marines raising the Stars and Stripes at Iwo Jima in World War II.

How did that photo make its way to the Arghandab valley of southern Afghanistan? Is it inspiration? A reminder of hoped-for victory at the end of a long and painful slog? Or a longing for a bygone war in a seemingly simpler time?

Such are the images of daily life for American troops fighting in Afghanistan: A clinically organized desolation, a war without the fight, a set of still lifes amid the violence, each day of their deployment.