Published: Fri, December 28, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Trump finally hews to ritual of meeting troops in harm's way

Trump finally hews to ritual of meeting troops in harm's way

At first, the president received criticism for not following White House tradition of visiting troops on Christmas.

Trump's video shows him with service members who appear to be part of Seal Team Five, whose faces are not covered or blurred, Newsweek reported.

Trump, who spent more than three hours along with First Lady Melania Trump at Al Asad Air Base near Baghdad, addressed several hundred servicemen and -women, boasting that he had delivered them "one of the biggest pay raises you've ever received".

It probably made sense, then, that Trump flew to Iraq, the locale of his alleged victory over ISIS, and a country where he is not presently demanding a total drawdown of USA troops.

In a statement issued following Trump's appearance, Abdul-Mahdi said his office had been informed of the president's desire to arrange a visit, which was supposed to include a formal meeting between the two leaders.

Members of the military cheered as President Trump spoke at the rally. Iraq formally declared victory against the terror group a year ago, but United States troops have remained to help stabilize regions of the country and train Iraqi soldiers.

During his visit, according to pool reports, Trump asked to take a picture with someone who told him he was the chaplain for the special operations forces unit.

Addressing troops at an air base in western Iraq late Wednesday, Trump defended his decision to pull forces from neighboring Syria, declaring of Islamic State militants: "We've knocked them out".

Trump's critics have said that the fight is far from over and the withdrawal leaves allies in the lurch. The visit appeared to inflame sensitivities about the continued presence of US forces in Iraq as the two major blocs in the Iraqi parliament condemned the trip, likening it to a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.

Politico, meanwhile, painted Trump as incompetent in a story titled, "How Trump gave away his secret war zone trip".

The video with the SEALs faces is available on Trump's Twitter, but Raw Story has chosen not to run it to protect their identities.

But those decisions have been unpopular among even his own national security team, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, who resigned last week. "We've knocked them silly". "Make it about them", he said, "don't put the spotlight on you". He said some troops "can now return home to their families". He told The Associated Press in an interview in October that he "will do that at some point, but I don't think it's overly necessary".

The U.S. military says it has about 5,200 troops in Iraq, focused on training and advising Iraqi troops to ensure that Islamic State does not re-emerge.

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