The Thanksgiving holiday tradition reached U.S. troops deployed to war zones in and around Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan this year, blessing them with a taste of home amid an unrelenting jihadi threat.
If only briefly while watching over their shoulders, American forces feasted on a traditional Thanksgiving Turkey meal on Thursday.
Referring to the U.S.-NATO theater in Afghanistan, U.S. Navy Capt. Tom Gresback, a spokesman for the coalition, told Breitbart News: “While the mission of defending our national ideals never stops, we are providing U.S. service members the opportunity to participate in the usual Thanksgiving traditions of festive meals, watching sports and movies, and being thankful to be citizens of the United States.”
The war – mainly against the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) – continued to rage in Afghanistan on Thanksgiving Day after more than 16 years, at least 22,730 U.S. military casualties (2,396 dead, 20,334 wounded), and about $877 billion spent since the conflict began in October 2001.
A suspected Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) suicide bomber targeted a crowd of people in Nangarhar province located in eastern Afghanistan along the Pakistan border, killing at least eight and wounding 17 others on Thursday.
Despite ISIS’s territorial losses in Iraq and Syria, American troops in the region remained vigilante against the Islamic terrorist menace.
U.S. Central Command’s (CENTCOM) media desk for the anti-ISIS operation told Breitbart News:
Although we make the effort to adjust work schedules, coalition troops in Iraq and Syria must continue to be prepared to respond to the same threats posed by ISIS terrorists every day. We are working with our partner forces in Iraq and Syria to root out the last pockets of ISIS and ensure reconstruction and a return to normalcy for the people of Iraq and Syria after ISIS is defeated as a military threat in the region.”
While thankful for the opportunity to be reminded of what they are fighting for — country, family, and friends — CENTCOM acknowledged that U.S. troops remained in pusuit of their goal of annihilating terrorist groups on Thursday.
CENTCOM is charged with U.S. military operations in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, including the anti-ISIS offensive.
For U.S. troops in the Middle East, “Thanksgiving is another day of work in the fight to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” declared the American military, noting:
Since Thanksgiving is an American holiday, U.S. troops make an effort to share this tradition with our coalition partners. We do this at our dining facilities, which typically go above and beyond to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving meal for all coalition troops One of the most positive aspects of a coalition environment is the opportunity for each nation to share their individual traditions, so that this is a valuable culturally-broadening experience for all troops involved.”
The U.S. military flew nearly 100,000 pounds of turkey to U.S. troops stationed all over the world for Thanksgiving, revealed the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support.
During the 2003 Iraq war , U.S. troops sustained 4,496 fatalities and 32,252 injuries and spent about $819 billion, according to Pentagon data.
In the ongoing war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, which began in 2014, U.S. forces have suffered 104 casualties (46 dead, 58 wounded) and devoted about $28 billion in American taxpayer funds to the conflict.