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Troops serving overseas during the holidays

15,000 in Iraq and Afghanistan

369th Sustainment Brigade U.S. Soldiers of the 369th Sustainment Brigade, from New York, eat a Thanksgiving holiday meal at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait Nov. 26.

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While the vast majority of Americans sat down with family for a fall feast on Thanksgiving, hundreds of thousands of U.S. service members were on guard around the world, ensuring their fellow citizens enjoyed a day of peace.

For them, it is another duty day.


There are about 10,000 U.S. service members deployed in Afghanistan. Most are helping Afghan allies maintain control of their country, while others are taking the fight to violent extremists who hope to use Afghanistan to plan attacks against the United States and its allies.

There are about 5,000 U.S. service members deployed in Iraq. They are helping Iraqi forces take the fight to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

In Syria, there are about 300 service members helping Syrian democratic forces take on ISIL around Raqqa.

These forces are supported by others based in Turkey, Kuwait and elsewhere in the region. There are about 28,000 American service members in South Korea ready to “fight tonight,” from the Demilitarized Zone to Busan.

There are about 50,000 American service members based in Japan.

In Europe, Russian aggression in Ukraine and threats to NATO required a response from the United States with troops deploying to the eastern countries of the alliance on a rotational basis.

In Africa, troops are working with local nations to strengthen nations in their fights against Boko Haram and other violent extremist organizations.

In South America, U.S. forces are working with allies to curb the drug trade and stop transnational crime networks.

Overall, the Army has 183,630 Soldiers committed to support six geographic commands, according to Army officials. There are roughly 4,000 in U.S. Southern Command, 33,000 in U.S. European Command, 8,000 in U.S. Africa Command, 18,000 supporting operations for U.S. Northern Command, 39,000 in U.S. Central Command, and 72,000 in U.S. Pacific Command.

The Air Force has 63,329 active-duty Airmen stationed overseas. They range from the combat zones to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to Kunsan Air Base in South Korea. In addition, thousands of Airmen will worked Thanksgiving weekend — as they do year-round — maintaining America’s nuclear deterrent in the heartland of the nation.

The Navy has roughly 73,000 deployed Sailors. Some 1,300 submariners are on patrol aboard ballistic missile submarines or attack boats. Many other Sailors are at sea maintaining U.S. presence in the South China Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean Sea and the oceans of the world. It is truly a global force.

Marines are aboard these ships, also, as well as serving in posts in the combat zones, and maintaining readiness from Japan to Australia to Norway. Marines are working with allies in the Philippines and helping train Iraqi forces in al-Taqaddum.

Thousands of service members will guard America using space-based assets and thousands more will protect DOD assets in cyberspace.

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