Army helmet and boots Via Pixabay

NEW YORK CITY - An aerial drone struck Americans troops stationed in northeast Jordan near the Syrian border early Sunday, killing three U.S. service members and leaving at least 34 others wounded. A day later, President Biden is vowing to respond.

The attack occurred at a support base known as Tower 22, which supports Al-Tanf Garrison in southeastern Syria, where U.S. special operations have long operated alongside other countries combating Islamic State militants. About 350 U.S. Army and Air Force personnel are deployed to the base.

"We had a tough day last night in the Middle East. We lost three brave souls," Biden said during a stop at Brookland Baptist church in West Columbia, S.C. After leading a moment of silence, the President said: "And we shall respond."

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a coalition of militias backed by Iran, claimed credit for the attack. The group called it revenge for America's military presence in the region and the Palestinian death toll in Gaza, NPR reported.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin described the service members as "brave Americans," he also shared Biden's sentiment on a possible response.

"The President and I will not tolerate attacks on American forces, and we will take all necessary actions to defend the United States, our troops, and our interests," he said in a statement.

As tensions keep running high with the military and the Middle East, what role do Latinos play in this relationship? Here are 5 facts to know about Latinos' and Hispanics' involvement in the armed forces.

  • Historically, Latinos have been highly involved in the U.S. military. While "Latino" and "Hispanic" are modern terms, soldiers of Spanish or Latin American heritage have fought in every U.S. conflict since the Revolutionary War, making them an impactful demographic for these forces.
  • Latinos comprise about 20% of the U.S. population, and Department of Defence statistics show that they make up a similar proportion of of active-duty service members, with 17%. The Marine Corps has the highest percentage (23%) of Latino active-duty members.
  • A 2022 report from the Department of Defense showed Latinos were the fastest-growing segment of the military. Its recruitment efforts include Spanish-language ads and recruitment campaigns in high schools with large Latino populations, using monetary incentives, potential immigration opportunities and a continuation of education to entice Latinos to serve.
  • While Latinos and Hispanics comprise a large portion of the military, only 2.6% are high-ranking Generals and Admirals. Key reasons for this can be problems with retention and mentoring, rooted from a lack of support from the Department of Defense, Ricardo Aponte, president of the Hispanic Veterans Leadership Alliance told NBC News in 2022.
  • Minority groups, such as Hispanic, Black and Asian troops report significantly higher rates of suicide attempts than their white counterparts. Discrimination and family conflict are often cited as the risk factors in these trends.

The future of U.S. and Middle East relations remains highly uncertain. However, as the Latino population in America rises, and its cultural influence becomes more prevalent, it should not come as a surprise that Latino and Hispanic troops will remain present and influential in these conflicts.

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