This Week at War: Going Into Battle
The Stream's weekly look at the sacrifices of U.S. troops and military families around the globe.
It’s remarkable how little we hear about the ongoing war in Afghanistan. Just this week, I found at least three separate instances of soldiers recently leaving for the combat zone, where our brave men and women in uniform have been fighting for more than 17 years. As usual, the national media was busy obsessing over partisan politics.
As seen in the touching photograph displayed above, 29 soldiers with the New Jersey National Guard left for Afghanistan on January 3, according to the Burlington County Times. Lisa Broadt’s report said the departure is “the first in a series of local deployments to come over the next five months.”
In Rochester, New York, 46 New York Army National Guard soldiers were honored in a January 2 ceremony before leaving for Afghanistan, according to Rochester First. The station’s report said the soldiers will be tasked with extracting wounded troops from the battlefield.
“As my family gets older, it always gets a bit harder,” Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Tschiderer told Rochester First. “My sons understand that dad’s going to be gone, dad’s going to war, but they are not quite old enough to comprehend what war is.”
In Savannah, Georgia, another touching photo emerged when a National Guard unit left Hunter Army Airfield for Afghanistan.
— National Guard (@USNationalGuard) January 4, 2019
These deployed American heroes need our prayers. So does the family of fallen U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Emond, who will be honored in his home state of Massachusetts on Friday when flags are lowered to half-staff. The Green Beret was killed in a November 27, 2018, roadside bomb attack that also took the lives of three fellow American heroes.
One of those fallen warriors, U.S. Army Green Beret Capt. Andrew Ross, was laid to rest with full military honors on Tuesday at Arlington.
“Ross’ widow, Felicia, sat just feet away,” The Roanoke Times reports. “The two married Feb. 17 — nine months and ten days before Ross was killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan during his second tour there with the U.S. Army.”
Earlier today, military funeral honors with funeral escort were conducted for U.S. Army Capt. Andrew Ross in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery. Ross died Nov. 27, 2018 when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in Andar, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/P2Zyg4gCyK
— Arlington National Cemetery (@ArlingtonNatl) January 8, 2019
We will never forget these gallant American patriots and the loved ones they left behind.
Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Yemen
The Department of Defense recently reduced the number of strike reports it releases each month, but the latest data makes clear that American fighter jets are still pounding away at terrorist targets in Iraq and Syria. There were more than a thousand combat engagements with ISIS in Syria between December 16-29, with 14 recorded in Iraq.
In Somalia, at least four airstrikes targeting the al-Shabab terrorist group were carried out this week, according to Voice of America. The report said 16 terrorists were killed.
In Yemen, U.S. Central Command this week officially confirmed that terrorist mastermind Jamal al-Badawi was killed by American forces in a New Year’s Day airstrike. Al-Badawi was instrumental in planning the October 12, 2000, terrorist attack on the USS Cole in the Gulf of Aden that killed 17 U.S. Navy sailors and wounded dozens more. Thank you to the valiant men and women of our military for bringing this al Qaeda murderer to justice.
U.S. Navy sailors serving aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham recently returned home just in time to celebrate the holidays with family and friends.
Welcome home, heroes!
Tom Sileo is a contributing senior editor of The Stream. He is co-author of three books about military heroes: 8 Seconds of Courage, Brothers Forever and Fire in My Eyes. Follow Tom on Twitter @TSileo.