US troops definitely want to keep deploying to Afghanistan, enlisted leaders say

Operation Enduring Freedom Turns 17

Editor's Note: This article by Richard Sisk originally appeared, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

President Donald Trump wants U.S. forces out of Afghanistan, but top noncommissioned officers from the services and combatant commands maintain that troops are still eager to go there and to other combat zones.

The general attitude in the ranks on risky deployments is "quite the opposite" of what many might believe, said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Metheny, the top noncommissioned officer for the NATO Resolute Support mission and U.S. Forces Afghanistan.

"They're disappointed when you have to tell them about the force caps" on the estimated 14,000 U.S. troops now in Afghanistan, Metheny said at Pentagon briefings Wednesday by senior NCOs on a range of issues.

The opportunity to deploy is also a factor in recruiting and retention, he said, pointing to what he said is a 108% retention rate for those serving in Afghanistan.

Other senior enlisted leaders at the briefings echoed Metheny, stating that the chance to deploy overseas in the nation's defense is a motivating factor for those who join.

Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said troops in Afghanistan are committed to bringing stability to a region in turmoil, even after 18 years of war. "They're still executing the mission they've been given," he said.

"The threat of combat or the threat of injury or death is always a concern" in any war zone deployment, he said, "but I think the men and women who choose to serve, it's because they look and see the great work that the men and women are doing serving in the military."

He pointed to a recent video that went viral of a Coast Guardsman who leapt aboard a semi-submersible and slammed his fist on the hatch to take into custody suspected drug runners.

"When that Coastie got on top of that submarine -- there are going to be young men and women out there that say, 'I want to do that,' or when they see sailors doing freedom of navigation operations" in the South China Sea or the Taiwan straits, Troxell said.

Deployments are also a plus for the National Guard, said Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Kepner, senior enlisted adviser to the National Guard Bureau.

"The biggest question I get from our young men and women today is not, 'Will I have to go downrange?'" Kepner said. "It's, 'Deployments are not going to stop, are they, Sergeant Major?'"

Marine Sgt. Maj. Troy Black said that acceptance of risk is one of the attractions of the Marine Corps.

"They want to come serve their country, and the risk of it is just part of the deal," said Black, who took over the role of Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps on Friday.

Troxell backed up Black, stating, "Every young man and woman that I run into -- they want to go to the places that we've been going to in the past years like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and places like that, even though there's that inherent risk all the time."

The enlisted leaders spoke after Trump restated in blunt terms his frustration with the progress of the war in Afghanistan and his desire to broker a peace deal with the Taliban to speed the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

At an Oval Office meeting Tuesday with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Trump called the war in Afghanistan "ridiculous" and said lengthy overseas engagements are turning the U.S. armed forces into the world's "policemen."

"I could win that war in a week. I just don't want to kill 10 million people," Trump said. "If I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth. It would be gone in 10 days. And I don't want to do -- I don't want to go that route."

"So we're working with Pakistan and others to extricate ourselves," he said. "Nor do we want to be policemen, because basically we're policemen right now. And we're not supposed to be policemen."

This article originally appeared on

More articles from

It has been a deadly year for Green Berets, with every active-duty Special Forces Group losing a valued soldier in Afghanistan or Syria.

A total of 12 members of the Army special operations forces community have died in 2019, according to U.S. Army Special Operations Command. All but one of those soldiers were killed in combat.

In Afghanistan, Army special operators account for 10 of the 17 U.S. troops killed so far this year. Eight of the fallen were Green Berets. Of the other two soldiers, one was attached to the 10th Special Forces Group and the other was a Ranger.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Documents from the Pentagon show that "far more taxpayer funds" were spent by the U.S. military on overnight stays at a Trump resort in Scotland than previously known, two Democratic lawmakers said on Wednesday, as they demanded more evidence from the Defense Department as part of their investigation.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, the heads of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee and one of it subcommittees said that while initial reports indicated that only one U.S. military crew had stayed at President Donald Trump's Turnberry resort southeast of Glasgow, the Pentagon had now turned over data indicating "more than three dozen separate stays" since Trump moved into the White House.

Read More Show Less
Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley from 1979's 'Alien' (20th Century Fox)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

QUANTICO, Va. -- Marines who spend much of their day lifting hefty ammunition or moving pallets full of gear could soon get a helping hand.

The Marine Corps is close to signing a deal to test an exoskeleton prototype that can help a single person move as much as several leathernecks combined.

Read More Show Less
NEC Corp.'s machine with propellers hovers at the company's facility in Abiko near Tokyo, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019. The Japanese electronics maker showed a "flying car," a large drone-like machine with four propellers that hovered steadily for about a minute. (Associated Press/Koji Sasahara

'Agility Prime' sounds like a revolutionary new video streaming service, or a parkour-themed workout regimen, or Transformers-inspired niche porno venture.

But no, it's the name of the Air Force's nascent effort to replace the V-22 Osprey with a militarized flying car — and it's set to take off sooner than you think.

Read More Show Less
In this March 12, 2016, file photo, Marines of the U.S., left, and South Korea, wearing blue headbands on their helmets, take positions after landing on a beach during the joint military combined amphibious exercise, called Ssangyong, part of the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle military exercises, in Pohang, South Korea. (Associated Press/Yonhap/Kim Jun-bum)

Task & Purpose is looking for a dynamic social media editor to join our team.

Our ideal candidate is an enthusiastic self-starter who can handle a variety of tasks without breaking a sweat. He or she will own our brand's social coverage while working full-time alongside our team of journalists and video producers, posting to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (feed, stories, and IGTV), YouTube, and elsewhere.

Read More Show Less