Let us give thanks for America’s troops

Let us give thanks for America's troops
As South Dakotans gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope we all can pause to give thanks for the men and women in uniform who make it possible for us to live every day in safety, in peace and in freedom.

Many of them are far from home and their own families this Thanksgiving because they have chosen service over self, and because they believe so strongly in the mission they're carrying out to defend freedom and protect America from terrorism.

I've just had the chance to speak to the commander of Charlie Battery of the 1st Battalion, 147th Field Artillery Brigade the last remaining South Dakota National Guard Unit in Iraq.� These soldiers are doing the important work of training Iraqi police in Baghdad so we can continue to transfer the responsibilities of governing and policing to the Iraqis themselves.�

This transfer of responsibility � done carefully and correctly � is central to securing a stable and peaceful Iraq and to bringing our men and women home in a timely manner. The update I received from the unit is encouraging and positive.

They are making good progress in training Iraqi police, and they say more Iraqis are signing up to join the police force every day. This is a strong sign that Iraqis are committed to seeing democracy's permanence and peace in their country.

Now more than ever, we must stand behind our military, the Iraqi people and the mission to secure freedom in the region. Success in Iraq means a brighter future for millions of Iraqis, a more stable Middle East and a safer America.�

To our troops in Charlie Battery and all our men and women in uniform: Thank you for your service. We are thinking of you and praying for you on Thanksgiving Day and every day, and we will stand firmly behind you as you continue to wage and win this War on Terror.

Charlie Battery is one of the few remaining South Dakota National Guard units in Iraq. This unit, which was assembled from units in Yankton, Mitchell, Salem, and Sioux Falls, includes 150 soldiers and is part of the 147th Field Artillery Brigade.�

During the past three months, the unit has undergone training at Fort Dix to learn specifically how to provide security in Iraq and train Iraqi police. Charlie Battery recently replaced a Minnesota unit in Eastern Baghdad, where they are now providing security and training police.�

The Battery Commander, Captain Phil Stiles, an attorney in Rapid City, provided Senator Thune with an update on the unit's efforts Tuesday.

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