The U.S. Department of Defense announced Wednesday the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom–a young man from Florida and one from Oklahoma, 28 and 26. They “died March 11, in Jalrez District, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when they were attacked by small arms fire.” The men were particularly unfortunate, given that involvement is winding down and coalition troop withdrawal has already been scheduled. Most of the troops will stay for only one more summer, in order to participate in the annual Afghan “fighting season.”
Coalition forces are veterans now of 10 straight fighting seasons. But this next one is different–a sort of swan song. Every soldier who makes it through this summer will increase by orders of magnitude his odds of dying somewhere else. Maybe even home in bed. The Enduring Freedom mission is 11 years old, and the enemies of the pro-democracy forces now know they won’t have to endure the freedom, such as it is, much longer. Time will then tell if the ambitious name of the operation was any more valid than Shock and Awe.