2017 was a year of momentum for American troops under the esteemed command of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. The Pentagon chief helped lead U.S.-led coalition forces to military victory in the Middle East through an accelerated offensive campaign that forced jihadists to abandon their ambitions of establishing a global caliphate.
The Islamic State is in tatters in Iraq and Syria. Its territorial claims have shrunk from the size of Texas to a handful of remote enclaves across the region. Though its ideology persists in the form of inspired terrorist attacks against western targets, its days of luring foreign fighters by the thousands and raking in millions of dollars through illicit oil sales are over.
ISIS militants cowering underground in Afghanistan faced the wrath of American troops when the Pentagon dropped the nation's most powerful nonnuclear bomb on a cave complex in August. The "mother of all bombs," weighing in at 21,600 pounds, killed a reported 94 ISIS fighters, including several mid-level commanders.
The victories were not without sacrifice. The U.S. military lost 15 service members in Afghanistan this year, and another 17 sailors were killed in naval ship collisions in the western Pacific.
But American troops remain the most formidable in the world. The all-volunteer force has beaten back jihadists across the Middle East, upheld the American pillars of freedom and rule of law, and retaliated against egregious humanitarian violations. In the words of President Donald Trump:
"No one—no dictator, no regime, and no nation—should ever underestimate American resolve. Every once in a while in the past they underestimated us. It was not pleasant for them. Was it? It was not pleasant. We will never yield. Never waiver, and never falter in defense of our people, our freedom, and our great American flag."
So this year, like every year, we are proud to honor the members of the United States military as Washington Free Beacon Men of the Year.