NOGALES, Ariz. — U.S. service members deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border are winning Hearts at an unprecedented level, embedded journalists within the task force have learned.
The troops, who have been on the mission since October, have now won hundreds of Hearts — and Spades — one round at a time.
“We’re trying to take the lessons we learned in Iraq and Afghanistan to heart,” said Task Force Commander Col. James Fisher. “As Americans, we’re used to holding all the aces. But sometimes you have to give up a trick to win the game.”
Between their duties walking around, poking at concertina wire, checking for cell service, and talking about when the best time to get lunchtime chow is, service members taking part in Operation Faithful Patriot have won an estimated 987 games of hearts, 1,289 games of spades, 18 house of cards building competitions, and one half-hearted emergency game of Go Fish!
“Echo Company has always been the best at listening to locals, building alliances, and then taking their tricks,” said Spc. Travis Keller, a light wheeled vehicle mechanic. “We used to play to 100, but at this point in the deployment, we’re playing to 1,000.”
While many pundits have publicly debated if the estimated 5,000 troops still mobilized to the border are a good use of government resources, the estimated 5,268 decks of playing cards have received so much attention and mentorship at the border that many are saying they’ll be ready to take on the operation for themselves in the next three to six months.
“Even if we never have to stop migrants at the border, our troops' time will not be wasted,” said Fisher. “Just today, I’ve seen some of our military police learn pip hearts, shoot the moon and even schwartz kartze. These are valuable fieldcraft skills our brave men and women will use in field exercise, National Training Center rotations, and future deployments.”
Defense analysts are concerned that if the troops aren’t deployed by Christmas, they’ll be forced to turn to Bridge — long a weakness for ground troops, particularly combat engineers.