President Trump and First Lady Melania secretly left Washington on Christmas night and visited Iraq on Wednesday to deliver holiday greetings to U.S. combat troops. Before heading to Florida for Thanksgiving, Trump vowed he would visit troops, but did not specify a date or specific location.
Trump's statement about the role American troops could play in Syria from inside Iraq could be problematic.
Trump made the boast during his first visit as president to troops in a combat zone.
As president-elect, Trump was drawn to the brawn of the armed forces and stacked his first Cabinet with generals, many of whom have since left his administration. President Trump himself tweeted out the video below. The president defended his decision to withdraw 2,000 US forces from neighboring Syria, saying the USA military had all but eliminated IS-controlled territory there. "Been more than 10 years, that's a long time", Trump said, repeating the false claim. Numerous troops in attendance may have been surprised to learn they hadn't seen a pay increase in more than a decade.
President Trump with military personnel in a dining hall at air base in Iraq.
During a surprise visit to the Al Asad Airbase in Iraq on Wednesday, Trump gave a speech to cheering troops, signed some soldiers' red Make America Great Again hats, and posed for photos and videos - including with a group in full special forces gear.
Troops greeted Trump with other expressions of appreciation.
I'm sure we'll be hearing about it if he said anything to question the existence of Santa Claus during his visit.
After the meeting with service members was given the green light to go public, Trump reportedly told Commander Lee, "Hey, in that case, let's take a picture". "They should be sharing the burden of costs and they're not", the US President said.
Trump had planned to spend Christmas at his private club in Florida, but stayed behind in Washington due to the partial government shutdown. Trump traveled with a small group of journalists, who were ordered for security reasons not to report that he was in Iraq until he had finished delivering his remarks to the troops, roughly three hours into his visit to the base. We could make it 2 percent. But its political, military and economic situation remains uncertain, and the country continues to experience sporadic bombings, kidnappings and assassinations, which most people attribute to IS. He also visited Afghanistan once. "The real names, faces, and identities, of personnel involved in special operations or activities, are usually a closely held secret in a combat zone", Malcolm Nance, a former U.S. Navy intelligence specialist, told the news outlet.