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Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

Trump Visits Troops

 

WASHINGTON EXAMINER

Trump makes surprise trip to Iraq to visit with troops

by Steven Nelson& Melissa Quinn

| December 26, 2018 02:20 PM

President Trump made an unannounced visit to troops stationed in Iraq on Wednesday, landing after hours of speculation in Washington on his whereabouts.

Trump addressed U.S. soldiers and posed for selfies at Al Asad Air Base near Baghdad a day after Christmas. First lady Melania Trump joined him on the trip.

The visit was a closely guarded secret until after Air Force One landed, but the mysterious departure of a plane from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland triggered theories that Trump was traveling abroad.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed the trip on Twitter.

“President Trump and the First Lady traveled to Iraq late on Christmas night to visit with our troops and Senior Military leadership to thank them for their service, their success, and their sacrifice and to wish them a Merry Christmas,” Sanders wrote.

Speaking in Iraq, Trump said he does not have plans to remove U.S. troops from the war-torn country. Instead, he said Iraq could be used as a base to help combat the Islamic State, according to Bloomberg.

“If we see something happening with ISIS that we don’t like, we can hit them so fast and so hard they really won’t know what the hell happened,” Trump said. “We’ve knocked them silly.”

Last week, Trump ordered the withdrawal of about 2,000 U.S. troops from neighboring Syria, where noncovert operations began with airstrikes in 2014, and a drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, where U.S. troops have been based since 2001. He described the actions as making good on a campaign pledge to avoid open-ended military engagements.

Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. service members from Syria has earned him criticism from both sides of the aisle, but the president defended the move during his overseas visit. “It’s time for us to start using our head,” he told reporters, “We don’t want to be taken advantage of anymore by countries that use us.”

The president’s trip to the Middle East comes after Trump had received criticism for being the first president since 2002 not to visit service members during the holiday season. Trump visited military personnel at Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., days before Christmas last year and invited members of the Coast Guard to play golf with him during a holiday trip to Mar-a-Lago, his sprawling Florida property, in the days after Christmas.

President Barack Obama, meanwhile, met with service members at Marine Corps Base Hawaii from 2009 to 2016 while celebrating the holidays in Hawaii.

Trump hinted in recent weeks that a trip to visit U.S. troops in a combat zone would be in his future. While speaking with troops in Afghanistan during Thanksgiving, Trump told Brig. Gen. David Lyons of the U.S. Air Force, “Maybe I’ll even see you over there . . . You never know what’s going to happen.”

Trump then suggested in an interview with Fox News last month that a visit to troops deployed overseas was in the works. “I think you will see that happen,” he said during the interview. “There are things that are being planned. We don’t want to talk about it because of security reasons and everything else.”

 

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