Service & Sacrifice: Worth the Risk?

A snapshot of the burdens being shouldered by brave U.S. troops and military families around the world.

U.S. Army soldiers and U.S. Navy sailors build a floating pier off the shore of Gaza in support of a humanitarian relief mission on April 26, 2024.

By Tom Sileo Published on May 3, 2024

Middle East

Is providing humanitarian relief in Gaza worth risking the safety of the U.S. military personnel tasked with building a pier off its coast?

In the wake of an April 25 mortar attack aimed at the pier while it was being constructed, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin faced tough questions in Congress this week about whether American troops are indeed at risk and what would happen in the event of an attack on the brave men and women of the U.S. military who are building the pier, which could be operational by this weekend.

The most dramatic moment of the House hearing came during a tense exchange between Austin and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).

“So if someone from land, and Gaza, shoots at our service members who are on the $320 million pier that we’re building, you’re telling me our service members can shoot back?” inquired Gaetz.

“They have the right to return fire to protect themselves,” said Austin, who also acknowledged the possibility of such an attack on the U.S. military.

While congressional hearings often resemble circuses in this hyperpartisan day, the exchange between Austin and Gates was important. While a humanitarian mission is noble and our military will surely do a brilliant job in administering the aid, is it worth the life of one single U.S. service member to do so?

My opinion is no. With U.S. military and commercial ships already being attacked by the Iran-backed Houthis in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and elsewhere, plus many months of attacks on bases in Iraq, Syria, and Jordan, adding another target for Hamas and other terrorist groups simply isn’t worth it.

At the same time, no matter how I or any other American may feel about a given military mission, we should always support the heroes carrying it out. We pray that all American warriors working on the Gaza pier are shielded from danger and come home safely. We also thank them for their courage.

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Africa

Back in 2017, The Stream extensively covered the deaths of four U.S. military special operations warriors in the African nation of Niger. Seven years later, there might finally be a small measure of closure for the grieving family members of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Sgt. La David T. Johnson; Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, and Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Johnson.

Task & Purpose reports that an ISIS leader believed to have played a central role in planning and carrying out the ambush that killed the four U.S. Army soldiers may have been killed by military forces in neighboring Mali. Abu Huzeifa “was known in recent years to show off an American rifle he said was taken from dead Green Berets.”

Hopefully, reports of this cowardly terrorist’s death are true and his elimination will bring some comfort to these four Gold Star families. We will never forget their loved ones and the ultimate sacrifices they made for our country.

Europe

As Russia intensifies its ongoing assault on Ukraine, which includes the alleged use of chemical weapons, few realize the impact the war is having on American troops. While no U.S. military personnel are deployed to Ukraine other than a handful protecting the American embassy in Kyiv, more than 100,000 troops are currently stationed across Europe with a substantial number of reinforcements on the way.

Task & Purpose reports that “several thousand” U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division soldiers will deploy this summer from Fort Johnson in Louisiana. The soldiers will be stationed in multiple Eastern European countries, including Romania.

The article also notes that another 3,600 soldiers from the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions are heading “to southeastern Europe and parts of Scandinavia in order to maintain the troop buildup on the continent in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.”

Meanwhile, in an interview with The Economist published on Thursday, the leader of NATO ally France said he would not rule out sending troops to fight in Ukraine if Russian troops break through Ukrainian front lines.

“I’m not ruling anything out, because we are facing someone who is not ruling anything out,” said French President Emmanuel Macron, who was clearly  referencing his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

It is not hyperbole to point out that World War III could break out at any moment. Please pray for all members of our military deployed overseas and for their worried families here at home.

Coming Home

A group of Vietnam veterans who served in Naval Special Warfare units during the war received a warm welcome home to San Diego from 800 military and civilian supporters this week following a trip to see memorials in Washington, D.C.

Military Homecoming

Vietnam veterans are welcomed back to San Diego after a trip to view monuments in our nation’s capital on April 28, 2024.

Thank you for all you’ve done for our country! All Vietnam veterans are American heroes.

 

Tom Sileo is a contributing senior editor of The Stream. He is the author of the forthcoming I Have Your Back, the recently released Be Bold, and coauthor of Three Wise MenBrothers Forever8 Seconds of Courage and Fire in My Eyes. Follow him on X @TSileo and The Stream at @Streamdotorg.

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