The newest Star Wars movie has been deployed to Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates and undisclosed locations in Southwest Asia, where it will be shown for free to about 10,000 deployed service members – starting two days ahead of its release in the U.S.

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” will start showing Dec. 18, and will roll out through Jan. 5, according to the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, through a partnership since 2012 with The Walt Disney Studios. The U.S. release date is Dec. 20.

The free screenings will be at locations where AAFES doesn’t operate its Reel Time theaters. Tickets will be for sale as usual at AAFES Reel Time theaters, including those in Qatar, Afghanistan and Kuwait, which will show the movie during its normal theatrical release, officials said.

“Bringing a blockbuster movie like ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ to deployed troops during the holidays is a big morale boost,” said AAFES director and CEO Tom Shull.

AAFES and The Walt Disney Studios have brought a number of big movies to deployed troops during the holidays, including “Star Wars” movies in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

“This is our way of thanking our troops for their service,” said Ken Caldwell, Executive Vice President and General Sales Manager for North American Sales and Distribution at The Walt Disney Studios.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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