This month marks the 11th holiday season in which U.S. troops have been stationed in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, which, after Vietnam, is the longest overseas military conflict in U.S. history.
But 2011 has been different from the years preceding it. The killing in May of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, followed by President Obama's announcement in June that he would authorize a drawdown of 10,000 troops by year's end, have fueled hopes of many American service personnel that this Christmas would be their last there.
Those who man the supply lines, such as the "lifeliners" of the U.S. Army's 101st Sustainment Brigade, share the same dream. Yet each day they put those thoughts aside and continue to do the work needed to keep things moving, to lay the foundation for the free flow of trade and commerce after they leave, and to provide their brothers and sisters in arms with some of the comforts of home in a strange and unforgiving land thousands of miles away.
The stories that follow illustrate the creativity and resourcefulness of troops of the 101st Sustainment Brigade—which provides logistical support to the legendary 101st Airborne Division—as they make life a bit better and easier both for their fellow soldiers and for Afghanis who will remain there long after the American presence is a distant memory.
The editors of DC Velocity would like to extend special thanks to Sgt. 1st Class Peter A. Mayes, who works in the 101st Sustainment Brigade's public affairs office at Bagram Airfield. Sgt. Mayes assembled most of the stories, all of the photos, and served as an indispensable liaison to our staff during the process. To him, a sincere "Job Well Done" and a well-deserved "Happy Holidays."