This Week at War: Striking Back
The Stream's weekly look at the ongoing sacrifices of U.S. troops and military families serving at home and abroad.
The U.S.-led war effort in Afghanistan intensified this week as American warplanes launched two days of airstrikes on the Taliban.
According to Stars and Stripes, the southern Helmand province airstrikes were in response to the Taliban repeatedly attacking Afghan forces in violation of a February peace agreement. President Trump said last week that he hoped to have all U.S. forces out of Afghanistan – where American troops have been fighting for more than 19 years – by Christmas.
In an NPR interview earlier this week, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would not address the exact number of troops he expects to be in Afghanistan at the end of the year.
“The key here is that we’re trying to end a war responsibly, deliberately, and to do it on terms that guarantee the safety of the U.S. vital national security interests that are at stake in Afghanistan,” Gen. Mark Milley told NPR.
The approximately 8,500 U.S. service members still serving in Afghanistan are warriors, but also real people with families who miss them dearly. Please join The Stream in praying for all American heroes in harm’s way, as well as their loved ones here at home.
A Thursday drone strike by the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command killed “two senior al Qaeda leaders in northwest Syria,” according to Fox News reporter Lucas Tomlinson.
This week also marks six years since American troops began fighting ISIS in both Syria and Iraq. Thousands of American service members have made staggering sacrifices since the war against ISIS began in 2014.
This week marks 6 years of the @Coalition mission to #defeatdaesh in Iraq and Syria. In 6 years the Coalition has liberated more than 110k sqKm in Iraq/Syria & nearly 8 million innocent civilians. pic.twitter.com/3V6ehcN25R
— OIR Spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto (@OIRSpox) October 14, 2020
We thank each and every soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, veteran, fallen hero and Gold Star family member for helping rid the world of evil.
The brave men and women of our military are also fighting a war against COVID-19.
In Minnesota, the National Guard has been called into two nursing homes experiencing coronavirus outbreaks. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that “the Minnesota National Guard has a cadre of Army and Air National Guard personnel who are trained doctors, physician assistants, nurses and emergency medical technicians who can be deployed to facilities facing a staffing crisis.”
The newspaper also reported that a third of one nursing home’s staff and 60% of residents have been infected. Soldiers and airmen will spend the next two weeks at the nursing home caring for residents and helping administer tests.
“If you have to call out the National Guard, that is an extreme step — and it should be a call out to all of us that we need to invest in staffing and retention in nursing homes,” says SPH professor Joseph Gaugler. #covid19 @UMNCHAI @StarTribune https://t.co/lWjBnwV3JY
— UMN School of Public Health (@PublicHealthUMN) October 14, 2020
This week in Tennessee, the National Guard administered its 400,000th test since March.
“Our soldiers and airmen have been working around the clock since the pandemic began,” Tennessee National Guard Lt. Col. Keith Evans said. “The number of citizens they have helped is a testament to their dedication to their neighbors and communities.”
Our nation’s brilliant men and women in uniform are fighting the war on coronavirus despite risks to their own safety. Nearly 50,000 U.S. troops have been infected since COVID-19 reached American shores, according to Department of Defense statistics, including eight deaths, 635 hospitalizations and 34,187 recoveries.
We pray for all U.S. troops and military families affected by this pandemic and thank them for sacrificing so much to keep Americans safe from this deadly virus.
A large group of American service members is back home in Virginia after more than nine months supporting the war effort in the Middle East.
Welcome home, warriors! Thank you for defending our freedom.
Tom Sileo is a contributing senior editor of The Stream. He is co-author of Three Wise Men, Brothers Forever, 8 Seconds of Courage and Fire in My Eyes. Follow Tom on Twitter @TSileo and The Stream at @Streamdotorg.