This Week at War: Still in Harm’s Way

The Stream's weekly look at the sacrifices of U.S. troops and military families around the globe.

A U.S. Army flight medic scans for threats during a mission over Afghanistan's Kandahar Province on December 5, 2018.

By Tom Sileo Published on January 4, 2019

Afghanistan

Reports have been swirling for several weeks about a possible partial U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan. While that is important news, many Americans are sadly accustomed to hearing very little about what the thousands of coalition troops still deployed to the war zone are actually doing there.

It’s been another violent week in Afghanistan. Thankfully, there have been no reports of U.S. military casualties.

Italian soldiers were targeted in a Wednesday “insider” attack in the western province of Herat, but escaped injury, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. On the same day, five Afghan troops were tragically killed in a separate Taliban attack in the southern province of Kandahar.

Just before Christmas, the U.S. military reportedly took out two ISIS fighters in the eastern province of Nangarhar. One of the terrorists killed in the American airstrike was ISIS “spokesman” Sultan Aziz Azam, according to Voice of America News. The report said Azam was responsible for “recruiting fighters to carry out high-profile attacks against civilians.”

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While the national media is busy focusing on the political ramifications of future troop withdrawals, fifty American soldiers stationed in Colorado are on their way to join the ongoing fight. The Colorado National Guard troops are headed over from Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora. A departure ceremony was held Wednesday at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in nearby Denver.

“This will be my children’s fourth time doing this, and my wife’s fourth time,” Chief Warrant Officer 3 Andrew Bellotti told KKCO/KJCT in Grand Junction.

Can you imagine leaving your family not once, but four separate times for an overseas deployment? These are the sacrifices our troops and military families have been consistently making during more than 17 years of constant war.

A sentence at the end of the local TV station’s story caught my eye: “They asked for support and prayers from the Western Slope (of Colorado).”

Let’s spread this Colorado unit’s prayer request nationwide. Please ask God to shield these volunteer warriors and military families, as well as all U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan. We must keep praying until every last soldier, sailor, airman and Marine has returned from the battlefields of America’s longest war.

Iraq, Syria and Somalia

President Trump’s surprise visit to Iraq and plans to eventually withdraw U.S. troops from Syria are predictably grabbing the headlines. That doesn’t mean the American heroes still serving there have taken a break from risking their lives in both countries, however. We should keep praying for them as well.

Americans rarely hear about ongoing military operations in the Horn of Africa, but this week, ten terrorists were reportedly killed by a U.S. aistrike targeting al-Shabab extremists. “This is the first reported U.S. airstrike of the year in Somalia” after 47 were conducted in 2018, according to the Associated Press.

Coming Home

A group of U.S. Navy sailors and pilots made it back to Norfolk, Virginia, just in time for the holidays.

Pilot Home

A U.S. Navy pilot greets his children during the squadron’s homecoming from a deployment on December 14, 2018, in Norfolk, Virginia.

Happy New Year and 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 CourageBrothers Forever and Fire in My Eyes. Follow Tom on Twitter @TSileo.

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