Trump Makes Surprise Visit to U.S. Troops in Iraq
President Donald Trump made a surprise visit to U.S. troops stationed in Iraq on Wednesday, his first trip to a combat zone.
The appearance comes five days into a partial government shutdown and just as Trump’s tensions with his military advisers are mounting. Against the advisers’ advice, the president announced last week that he would pull U.S. troops out of Syria and about 7,000 soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, cutting the number of American forces still involved in the country’s longest war.
A day later, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he would be stepping down, citing different views with the president. Shortly thereafter, Brett McGurk, head of the American effort against the terrorist group known as the Islamic State, accelerated his resignation, saying Trump’s announcement “came as a shock and was a complete reversal of policy that was articulated to us.”
On Wednesday, Trump didn’t back down from his stance.
“It’s time for us to start using our head,” Trump told reporters in Joint Base al Asad, west of Baghdad, Bloomberg reports. “We don’t want to be taken advantage of anymore by countries that use us” and our military, he said.
Trump has said he has no plans to pull troops from Iraq as they may serve as a regional base in efforts against groups like the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
“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 Wednesday.
According to The New York Times, the president and First Lady Melania Trump will make two stops on their trip to Iraq, visiting the more than 5,000 Americans stationed there.