Top 10 articles from a 'remarkable and historic' 2011

But before that point is turned, here is a look back at the stories that dominated this year:

1. Bin Laden was hidden in Pakistan mansion near retired military

The man behind the 9/11 attacks, thought by some to be living in a cave, who had eluded capture for more than a decade, was killed after U.S. forces raided his compound, which was located in a part of an Islamabad suburb that is home to many "retired military," an administration official told reporters May 1.

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2. Afghanistan war strategy shift portends troop drawdown

A senior military official says U.S. forces soon will begin winding down counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan, signaling a major shift in the decade-old conflict. U.S. forces are working to “set the conditions” for Afghan government officials and security forces to assume control of key provinces by next fall as American troops begin to exit, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos told The Hill during a Nov. 14 interview.

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3. Panetta promises Gates 2.0 at Pentagon

Leon Panetta signaled that his agenda as Pentagon chief would track closely with that of his predecessor Robert Gates, during confirmation testimony Thursday before a Senate panel full of admirers of the outgoing Defense secretary.

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4. Gen. Dempsey emerges as favorite to be next chairman of Joint Chiefs

The Hill was the first to report on May 20 that the Obama administration had concluded months of internal deliberations by picking Gen. Martin Dempsey, then the still-new Army chief of staff, to replace Adm. Michael Mullen as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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5. GOP hawks face vigorous fight to avert billions in automatic Defense cuts

Pro-military Republican senators face an uphill battle in their effort to replace $600 billion in Defense Department cuts with other reductions to federal spending. In a series of interviews with The Hill on Dec. 14, Democratic members of all political stripes made clear they would only support a bill to change the sequestered cuts that includes new federal revenues.

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6. Obama, Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki try to turn the page from war to trade

With a handshake viewed by the world on Dec. 12, one era gave way to another as the two leaders appeared together on a White House stage under their nations’ flags. Clasping hands, President Obama and Nouri al-Maliki promised a lasting relationship built on both security and economic and diplomatic cooperation

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7. White House backs down from threat to veto Defense bill over detainee language

The White House on Dec. 14 backed down from its veto threat of the defense authorization bill, saying that the bill’s updated language would not constrain the Obama administration’s counterterrorism efforts. While the White House acknowledged it still has some concerns, press secretary Jay Carney said President Obama’s advisers wouldn’t recommend a veto, a threat that had been hanging over the Pentagon policy bill for the past month.

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8. Lawmakers call for tougher restrictions on aid to Pakistan

The call on Capitol Hill for tougher restrictions on aid to Pakistan intensified in early May, with lawmakers from both political parties saying the time is ripe for reining in the U.S.’s inconstant ally. Lawmakers signaled they could try to accomplish this by placing new stipulations on the billions of dollars in annual aid Washington sends to Islamabad in return for Pakistan’s cooperation in the Afghan war.

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9. Gadhafi death changes few minds in Senate on Obama handling of Libya war

Senators welcomed the late-November death of Moammar Gadhafi, but the development changed few minds about the Obama administration’s handling of the Libya intervention. Democrats and Republicans agreed the North African nation — and the entire volatile region — will be better off without Gadhafi. And they said the NATO-led military operation should soon begin to be wound down.

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10. House amendment scraps $450 million slated for alternative F-35 engine

The House on Feb. 16 voted to zero out funding for a second F-35 engine, handing the Department of Defense a major victory just minutes after senior DOD leaders argued against further cuts. In a 233-198 vote, the House approved an amendment to its fiscal 2011 continuing resolution to nix $450 million appropriators had included for the alternate engine. Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) sponsored the amendment.

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