National Security Reporter Focusing on US Military
Paul Sonne National Security Reporter Focusing on US Military 19 November at 20:36 President Trump has begun telling advisors that…
President Trump has begun telling advisors that he may visit troops in a battle zone for the first time in his presidency , as he has come under scrutiny for his treatment of military affairs and failure to visit officials deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq.
Trump has hitherto declined to visit these battlefields and says he does not want to associate with war he sees as failures, according to current and former advisors, who spoke on terms of anonymity to describe private conversations. Current advisor said that Trump is not expected to visit a war zone during the Thanksgiving break, which he will spend at his Mar-a-Lago golf resort in Florida.
The president has often thrown himself as a tampon in the Pentagon force and the size of the military at his campaign rallies and on Twitter. Meanwhile, he has often criticized US military troops and decisions while personally attacking some former military leaders, which contributes to a complicated relationship with the armed forces that he commands.
Although he wrote of Defense Secretary Jim Matti’s desire to strengthen American military presence in Afghanistan and Syria and retain footprints in Iraq. Trump is not a fan of US military operations there.
At meetings of a potential visit, he has described missions in Iraq and Afghanistan as “totally ashamed,” according to the advisors. He also referred to the long flights and potential security risks as reasons he avoided in camp zone visits, they said.
Questioned last week why he has not visited American troops deployed in overseas conflicts, Trump indicated during a Fox News interview that a trip was in the work.
“I think you’ll see it happen,” said Trump in the interview with Chris Wallace, who sent Sunday. “There are things planned. We do not want to talk about it for security reasons and everything else.”
The president also repeated his mistaken statement that he was against the Iraq war. Washington Posts Factschecker has found that Trump originally expressed support for the invasion and not registered public objections until more than a year after the war began.
“I think it was a huge mistake, should never have happened,” Trump told Wallace.
“But this is about the soldiers, sir,” replied Wallace.
“You’re right,” said Trump. “I do not think anyone has been more with the military than me, as president. In terms of funding, for all things I’ve been able to get them, including veterinarians.”
Trump has talked privately about his fear of risks to his own life, according to a former senior White House official, who has discussed the matter with the president and spoke on terms of anonymity to speak candidacy about Trump’s concern.
“He has never been interested in walking,” said the official of Trump’s visiting troops in a battle zone and quoted talks with the president. “He is afraid of those situations. He is afraid that people want to kill him.”
Press for Trump to make such a visit has been built for several months. Eliot Cohen, a former George W. Bush official and drum critic, has raised the question regularly in public.
“The points are American soldiers and women are on the ground at these places,” Cohen said in an interview. “They are being killed. I think some good leaders would like to see something for themselves. And they would like to do something for the troops other than using them as supplies.”
Since Trump began, about 60 US officials died while They are distributed to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, according to the Pentagon statistics, including both “hostile” and “nonhostile” deaths.
Plans for a visit to Trump are not fixed, several advisors said and the president has just begun to say in the past few weeks that it may need to happen. A white spokesman failed to comment on presidential visits and cited security issues.
The President has come under scrutiny for his behavior against the military in recent weeks. He attacked the former head of the US Special Operations Command, Retired Adm. William H. McRaven, on Sunday for his role in catching and killing Osama bin Laden, calling him a supporter of Hillary Clinton and saying that the al-Qaeda leader should have been caught earlier in Pakistan. McRaven responded in a statement saying he did not approve of Clinton during the presidential elections in 2016.
Trump recently skipped a cemetery that marks the end of World War I in France, referring to bad weather. He also did not go to the Arlington National Cemetery two days later on Veterans Day, which later expressed rare regret to miss the opportunity.
“I should have done that,” he said in the Fox interview.
Trump has sent thousands of troops to the border with Mexico in anticipation of a migrating caravan in Central America in what his critics noticed a preelection stunt aimed at breaking the immigration sensitivity within his base. Mattis has described the assignment as a good training and necessary support for the hometown department.
The history of presidents visiting US troops on active deployments goes back decades and gives presidents a sense of what’s happening on the ground – while sending a message to troops that the government at home appreciates their personal victims.
During the Korean War, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s commitment to travel to South Korea led him to the presidency of Adlai Stevenson. Eisenhower followed through a visit in 1952.
Lyndon B. Johnson met troops in Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam in 1966 and told them that he had just come to say how proud he was of what they did and how they were doing it . He also visited forces there next year.
George H.W. Bush spent Thanksgiving with American troops in Saudi Arabia during the Desert Shield 1990 and New Year with troops in Somalia in 1993. His successor Bill Clinton visited troops in Bosnia in 1996 and spent Thanksgiving with troops in Kosovo in 1999.
George W. Bush made a surprise Thanksgiving visits to troops in Iraq months after the invasion of 2003 and went to the country three more times after it at the same time as president. At that time, US military footprints built in the country, which ultimately spoke about 170,000 troops in Iraq at the top stages in 2007.
Mark Hertling, a retired three-star general, helped organize the 2003 Surprise visit.
About six officers knew Bush would come, told him and told how the president flew into the international airport tomorrow and stayed hidden until the troops were in a big mess hall. Bush later served turkey and received resounding applause.
“The troops in the field need to know that their efforts are not wasted,” said Hertling. “It shows [that] the government and the people have their backs.”
The troop’s presence in Afghanistan grew during the first half of the Obama administration and reached a peak of about 100,000 2011. President Barack Obama visited the country four times as president by 2014 and made a trip to Iraq shortly after his first inauguration , meeting with US forces every time. He had previously visited battle zones in both countries as a US senator.
Trumps advisor states that his lack of visit does not constitute a lack of interest or disrespect for the military. There are military figures in his administration as he admires, his counselor says: Gen. Mark Milley, Army Chief and Retired Lt. Gene. Keith Kellogg, a former White House Advisor, who now works for Vice President Pence.
The president was convinced to sign an expense account he did not like by assistants who brought him lists of military equipment that the money would buy – even down to the specific planes and ships, says current and former White Houseman.
Trump often attacks the US military at its political meetings, and has signed a $ 716 billion budget for the Pentagon this year which contained the largest basic budget in custom terms since World War II.
Current and former aides said that Trump is gloomy when he makes military decisions and has expressed concern about troops who die on his watch. They also note that Trump has visited domestic military bases and visited troops abroad, such as a stop in Japan last fall, while military visitors came to the Oval Office.
“I have never heard him show any form of disrespect to the military in private,” said a former senior civil servant. “Every time you go somewhere with him in the military, he is overwhelmingly popular.”
According to current and former assistants, Trump was shaken after visiting the Dover Air Force Base shortly after his inauguration to get the remains of a marine sale killed in Yemen, his first trip to meet a sad family. He has not returned since.
The president, who attacked a Gold Star family at the 2016 campaign, has shown little interest in some of the military minutiae and regularly complains of headaches involved in its confusion around the world.
Most of Trump’s service, a trip to Iraq or Afghanistan had real security challenges and political complications, US officials said.
Iraq led to elections during the first year of office of the president and a visit by Trump around the time for controversy over Trump’s ban on Muslim majority countries may have further complicated efforts by US prime minister Haider al-Abadi to ensure re-election in May.
In Afghanistan, the security situation has deteriorated. In September 2017, Mattis was the target of a failed rocket attack at Kabul airport. A month later, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made a secret visit to Afghanistan but did not leave Bagram’s air base, partly due to security issues.
If the president wanted to visit US troops deployed to one of the countries, US military officials would find a way to organize the trip they have done before, according to officials familiar with the issue. He could easily stop at Bagram for a few hours, as Tillerson did, they said.
Hertling said he remembered a visit by late senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) To Iraq during the worst days of conflict, and McCain wanted to go to Mosul despite heavy battles. The military blanched.
“We wanted to take him somewhere but Mosul,” said Hertling. “He found out and wanted to go there. Then we went.”
Philip Rucker contributed to this report.