This Week at War: Saving Lives

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

By Tom Sileo Published on February 16, 2018


An estimated 14,000 American service members are hard at work in Afghanistan, where our military has been serving and sacrificing for more than 16 years. This harrowing Newsweek article gives us a better sense of who our valiant troops are up against.

“Almost 3,500 civilians were killed and 7,500 injured in extremist attacks and military strikes in Afghanistan in 2017,” the article, which cites United Nations statistics, begins. The Taliban is responsible for more than 40 percent of the casualties, according to the U.N., while ISIS and other terrorist groups continue to kill and maim innocent people in Afghanistan as well.

Despite these terrible, tragic numbers, the reported civilian deaths are down nine percent from 2016. While I’m sure there are a variety of factors that go into these statistics, it is abundantly clear that U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan are saving lives. No matter how one feels about the longest war in American history from a policy standpoint, all Americans should be proud of the men and women wearing our country’s uniform in Afghanistan. They are saving lives.

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One Taliban commander who will no longer be able to murder Americans and Afghans is Khan Said Sajna. According to Voice of America, the Pakistani Taliban confirmed the terrorist’s death in a recent U.S. drone strike in a remote area of Afghanistan near the Pakistani border.

According to the VOA, Sajna had “ties to the Haqqani network accused of staging high-profile terrorist attacks against local and U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.” Not anymore.

Syria and Iraq

The U.S. military confirmed on Tuesday that a separate American drone strike destroyed a Russian-made T-72 tank last weekend in Al Tabiyeh, Syria. No U.S. troops were harmed in the attack against “pro-Syrian government forces,” according to this Reuters piece.

Also in Syria, U.S. Marines fired more rounds over a five-month period in Raqqa than at any level recorded since the Vietnam War, according to this recent Business Insider article.

“In five months they fired 35,000 artillery rounds on ISIS targets, killing ISIS fighters by the dozens,” U.S. Army Sgt. Major. John Wayne Troxell told the Marine Corps Times in late January.

According to the article, more artillery was fired by U.S. forces in Raqqa than during the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003. That staggering statistic underscores the huge sacrifices still being made by the brave American warriors who are battling evil ISIS terrorists in Syria, Iraq and around the world.

Coming Home

USS Texas returned to Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor on Wednesday, February 14. The nuclear submarine had spent several months deployed to the Western Pacific. How fitting this military family was able to reunite on Valentine’s Day.

USS Texas Homecoming

A U.S. Navy sailor assigned to the fast-attack submarine USS Texas hugs his family on the submarine pier at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii on February 14, 2018.

Welcome home, hero! Thanks to you and your shipmates for protecting our country.


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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