In the eyes of his supporters, President Donald Trump’s unabashed admiration, love and respect for the men and women who serve our nation in uniform is clearly evident.
Naturally, Trump’s critics see things quite differently, and assert that the president really doesn’t care that much about military service members or the great sacrifices they make.
A key anti-Trump talking point in that regard that critics have hyped incessantly was the fact that the president had yet to visit any of our nation’s troops stationed in a war zone, ostensibly because he was too fearful to travel to a dangerous area and just didn’t care about the risks his soldiers faced in a combat zone while under his command.
But CNBC reported that that particular anti-Trump narrative died an inglorious death on the day after Christmas, as it was revealed that the president and first lady had made a surprise trip to Iraq to visit with U.S. airmen, soldiers and Marines deployed in the war-torn nation.
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. pic.twitter.com/s2hntnRwpw
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) December 26, 2018
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted, “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.”
CNBC noted that this was the president’s first visit to a war zone since becoming the president. He and the first lady secretly left the White House and Washington D.C. Tuesday evening for an overnight flight on Air Force One to a military airbase west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
Once the president and first lady had arrived and began to meet with military leaders, officers and enlisted personnel, pictures soon began to circulate among the media.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) December 26, 2018
It was noted that the return trip from Iraq would make a stop at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where the Trumps will also visit with U.S. troops who are stationed there.
The surprise visit to Iraq came just days after Trump had announced that he was withdrawing the roughly 2,000 U.S. troops deployed to neighboring Syria to combat the Islamic State group, a heavily criticized decision by all sides that likely led to the announced resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis.
Coinciding with rumored troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, speculation ran wild among analysts and “experts” in the media who suggested that Trump was pulling the entirety of the U.S. military presence out of the Middle East … which isn’t really the case at all.
The stated fear among the media and Trump’s critics was that the troop withdrawal from Syria would essentially undermine all of the gains made over the past two years and abandon our Kurdish allies to fend for themselves against their enemies and rivals in the region.
However, CNBC reported that the president made it clear to those he spoke with in Iraq that he had “no plans at all” to draw down and remove the more than 5,000 troops currently deployed there.
Left unsaid by that outlet is the obvious fact that, should there be a need for the U.S. to engage our nation’s enemies or protect our allies in Syria once again, we have thousands of troops literally right next door who could move in at a moment’s notice to handle whatever task is assigned them.
Trump also reportedly addressed the impending departure of Mattis while he was in Iraq, and offered up high praise for Deputy Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who will soon transition to be the acting defense secretary in the absence of Mattis, a post Trump suggested Shanahan could fill “for a long time.”
Trump’s critics had made great hay out of the fact that he hadn’t visited any U.S. troops in a war zone since becoming president, but they’ll have to drop that talking point now that both the president and first lady have paid a visit to our men and women in uniform in Iraq.