U.S. service members deployed to fight jihadi groups in the Middle East and Afghanistan were offered a moment’s respite from war to celebrate the Christmas holiday, connect with their families, and enjoy a traditional holiday meal Tuesday.
Writing from Afghanistan, where U.S. troops are continually facing the Afghan Taliban and the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), American Lt. Ubon Mendie, a spokesperson for the U.S.-NATO mission known as Resolute Support (RS), told Breitbart News in a statement:
As millions do across the world, we at Resolute Support will pause this holiday season to remember the loved ones whose support makes our service possible. Though far from home, we celebrate this special time with our deployed families – our international brothers and sisters with whom we are privileged to serve.
“Many of us will call home or use video apps to see our family and friends, as is highly encouraged. We are away for now but are honored to protect our vital national interests from here in Afghanistan,” he added.
At the Resolute Support Headquarters in the Afghan capital of Kabul, musicians played music and sang to the soldiers for Christmas, USA Today reports.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD) media arm, 190,000 U.S. troops are away from home this holiday season, ashore in war zones such as Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq, and abroad ships across the world.
— DVIDSHub (@DVIDSHub) December 24, 2018
A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria told Breitbart News that international forces were able to celebrate Christmas amid the ongoing mission to defeat the terrorist group.
“While the mission to achieve an enduring defeat of ISIS continues, the troops forward deployed who make up the 74 nation and five organization coalition did have the necessary resources to recognize the holiday season. Some areas are more spartan than others, but the leadership offered the chance to connect with families wherever possible,” the spokesperson for the anti-ISIS international mission known as Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), told Breitbart News, in a statement.
“Mail is and always has been a necessary part of maintaining our morale, and we have been absolutely overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of so many private organizations and individuals who so thoughtfully sent us care packages to make the distance more bearable,” he added. “Those who provided our meals put out their best effort to allow us to celebrate the season. While we recognize that sacrifice is necessary, we take pride in our mission and look forward to the day we can reconnect with our friends and family in person.”
Since World War II, U.S. service members overseas have reportedly received traditional American Christmas dinners no matter where they are stationed or deployed and this year is no exception, the Pentagon’s media arm reports.
Last year, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) flew over 112,000 pounds of Turkey, 59,000 pounds of beef, 38,000 pounds of ham, and 29,000 pounds of Shrimp, along with cookies, pies, and eggnog, to U.S. troops overseas, bringing a taste of home to them.
“This year, agency officials said they plan to send even more food,” the Pentagon’s media arm notes, adding, “During the 2018 holidays, the U.S. Postal Service said it expects to ship about 16 million pounds of mail to deployed service members and other Defense Department employees.”
U.S. President Donald Trump made Christmas calls to U.S. troops deployed around the world, thanking them for their service and sacrifice.
“I want you to know that every American family is eternally grateful to you,” Trump reportedly told American troops stationed in Guam, Bahrain, Qatar, and Alaska.
Outgoing U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis also sent a Christmas message to American troops around the world, thanking the men and women under his watch for “keeping the faith” even when they are abroad and away from their families over the holidays.
“Since Washington crossed the Delaware at Christmas of 1776, American troops have missed holidays at home to defend our experiment in democracy. To all you lads and lasses holding the line in 2018 on land, at sea, or in the air, thanks for keeping the faith,” Mattis declared in the video published on Christmas Eve. “Merry Christmas and may God hold you safe.”