It is without question that the American military is the world's best, deploying over and over again to multiple theaters in order to protect a sovereign nation and ensure the War on Terror front remains outside of our borders. The sacrifice borne by the Post-September 11th military is immense in both lives and disabilities. We owe a great deal to the few who fight on behalf of so many. We should pause, daily, to remember the 2,349 soldiers who gave their lives in Afghanistan including 48 this year. This is uncontested.
What remains a question is how long we will be involved in this war. Current plans include halving the current U.S. force from its current 10,000 troop footprint. Plans also hint at a full withdrawal from this theater in 2016; however, a NATO agreement announced late last month includes provisions keep a presence in Afghanistan until 2024 and beyond. If that comes to fruition, it is hard to imagine the U.S. military not playing a role, potentially keeping American boots on ground and American planes in the air for another decade.
As we hear about troop withdrawals and "the end of the War in Afghanistan," we must remember that any soldier, sailor, airman or Marine in harm's way, regardless of political definitions of war and peace, means we still have men and women in the field. Our responsibilities do not end with the end of hostile action. We will need to care for the families of the fallen and our heroic wounded today, tomorrow and for as long as there is need.
And sacred duty will last for much longer than another decade.