Never have so many been so thankful to so few for so long. America has been at war now for 14 years, two months, and 14 days. Nor is there any end in sight to soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines eating their Thanksgiving dinners in dusty outposts far from home.
We are thankful for their service and their sacrifices. We just wish there didn’t have to be so much service and so much sacrifice to be thankful for.
True, US troops are no longer engaged in large-scale land combat as they were at the height of the Iraq War. But we are back in Iraq, after we thought we were out for good, and have already lost our first fallen of this new phase. We never left Afghanistan, which long since became America’s longest war, and the drawdown is delayed. Our airpower and, in small doses, our special operators are fighting in Syria. Two servicemembers were at the right place in the right time to help free hostages from a hotel siege in Mali. Two others, off duty, and a civilian friend stopped a terrorist on a train in France. We must be thankful for, and pray for, them all.
Their service goes far beyond physical combat. We must be thankful for US troops reassuring NATO allies and deterring Russian aggression in Europe. We must be thankful for the crew of the USS Lassen, which was the first US ship in three years to challenge Chinese territorial claims in the South Pacific, and for all the sailors and marines on patrol aboard ship around the world. We must be thankful for the deskbound but essential servicemembers who keep watch on outer space and cyberspace, which increasingly threaten to become new domains of war.
We are thankful for the federal civilians, too, who struggle thanklessly in the dysfunctional bureaucracy to keep the uniformed troops supplied, armed, and fed. We are thankful for the private sector that invents and builds and provisions. And we are thankful for the families, especially those who must have their Thanksgiving tomorrow without a loved one. May all who can, come home safe; may those who cannot, rest in peace.
We are thankful for them all. — ALL the staff at Breaking Defense