There is reason for a little good news from the war in Afghanistan today. NBC News recently reported that no U.S. soldiers lost their lives in Afghanistan during March. After a decade of hearing of the loss of so many of our best over the last decade and more, this comes as a bit of good news.
The fact that the month of March saw no U.S. fatalities is, indeed, a small, bright spot of good news in the long story of this war. With our troops moving into a different mission status focusing instead on the training and transition of security to their Afghan counterparts, we hope that March will not be the last one in which we see reports of no U.S. losses in Afghanistan. As of now, our troops will be out of Afghanistan by the end of this year. If there is no agreement made between the current Afghan government and the U.S. to keep a certain number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan to continue training efforts, we will finally see an end to our longest war.
An All-Volunteer Force
Over the last decade and more our military has conducted its efforts against the Taliban and Al Qaida terrorist groups with skill and effect. At no other time in our history have so few sacrificed so much, for so long, to secure safety and freedom for us and for the Afghan people. These all-volunteer forces, which make up less than one percent of our total population, have paid the full price of this war with their blood and their lives on behalf of the over ninety-nine percent of our population.
In my time, it was rare that our military would do more than one tour in Vietnam. These men and women have done multiple tours, being ordered back to the battlefield several times. They, and their families, have endured many separations and the painful worries that go with each separation, while at the same time, most Americans went about their daily lives without ever thinking about the troops, or their families. In no other generation have so few been so willing and so able to do so much, so that so many can go on about their daily business without a thought, in freedom and safety.
These men and women in our military have given way more than their share in service to this country and we owe them. We owe them the dignity of our recognition and our respect. We owe them and their families all of the necessary support that they will need on returning home and re-entering the social fabric of our daily lives. They will need our continued support in the forms of financial aid for furthering their educations, employment opportunities, the support they need in terms of their short and long-term medical and psychological care as they recover from the wounds of war. Some will need our support for the rest of their lives. They have served us and kept us safe over the last decade and more and the rest of this country’s citizens must be willing to return the favor.
Still in Harm’s Way
What our all-volunteer military men and women have done for us cannot be measured in dollars. The losses they have suffered — the separations they and their families have endured on our behalf — can never be matched. The dignity with which they have conducted themselves, their total commitment to honor their oath to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America,” and the way that they have sacrificed so willingly, and with such courage, is worthy of our greatest respect.
We are thankful for this report of no U.S. fatalities during the month of March. But we also know that we are still there and that our men and women are still in harm’s way. We hope, even knowing the realities of war, that this will continue. And we wish to let them and their families know that their efforts are honored and that they will not be forgotten. We fellow American citizens must continue to be vigilant in ensuring that our President and our Congress remain fully committed to their support. Anything less than full support for our returning troops would be a national shame.
Images Top: As the sun sets behind U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Jamie R. Johnson, a platoon sergeant from Park Hills, Mo., assigned to Bayonet Company, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force No Slack, he peers into the floors of the Shigal Valley in eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar Province Mar. 17. No International Security Assistance Forces were injured during the joint operation where 20 insurgents were killed. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Burrell, 210th MPAD CC BY 2.0). Bottom: 1,215 U.S. servicemembers from all over Iraq re-enlisted during a ceremony in the Al Faw Palace rotunda at Camp Victrory in Baghdad, July 4, 2008. Multinational Force-Iraq Commander Army Gen. David Petraeus led the ceremony. (Photo by MNF-I Public Affairs, CC BY 2.0).