President Trump thanked members of military stationed abroad in Afghanistan and elsewhere for their service during the Thanksgiving holiday and said he observes their courage on the evening “news.”
“You are doing an incredible job,” Trump said in a teleconference from his sunny Mar-a-Lago estate.
”A lot of progress has been made and your courage truly inspires us all. We know what you are doing. We watch it. Oftentimes we are watching it every night during the news, and we know it is dangerous, and we also know that you have an unbelievable impact.”
Facing mounting pressure of his treatment of military, Trump phoned commanding officers from all five branches of the military stationed at various posts worldwide, including Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan and the USS Ronald Reagan which is current in Hong Kong.
The president kibitzed with military leaders about the time differences, equipment needs and the benefits of using steam to power aircraft carriers over digital electromagnetic systems.
“The steam system is tried and true for many, many years,” Trump said on the phone call.
He asked a military commander whether he’d prefer steam or electromagnetic catapults that only “Albert Einstein” can figure out.
The military leader said he’d prefer the new technology on air craft carriers. “I would go electromagnetic,” he told Trump.
Trump recently deployed about 5,900 active duty troops near the Southwest border just before the holidays to honor his midterm campaign pledge to block a caravan of migrants from entering the US. The deployment in support of Department of Homeland Security officials is estimated to cost $210 million.
“They are bad people,” Trump said Thursday of the caravan. He touted the troops’ installment of “barbed wire plus” to block asylum seekers from getting into the US, calling them dangerous people.
“We are not letting in anybody,” Trump said.
Trump, who has declined to visit combat troops stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan as president, has faced increased criticism in recent weeks for his treatment of the military.
While in France, he skipped a service marking the end of World War I after the rainy forecast meant he couldn’t take a helicopter to the cemetery. Back in Washington, he didn’t pay respects to the fallen at Arlington Cemetery on Veterans Day, instead staying behind at the White House.
“I should have done that,” Trump told Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace in an interview, a rare admission of error by the president.
The president has repeatedly declared his love for the US Armed Forces. In an interview with the Associated Press in October, he touted his support for military pay raises and securing funding for new equipment at the Pentagon.
“Nobody has been better at the military,” Trump said.
But Trump, who managed to evade the Vietnam draft five times for schooling and a diagnosis of bone spurs in his heels, has faced mounting pressure about his avoidance of war zones – unlike Presidents Obama and George W. Bush.
“I think you will see that happen,” Trump told Fox News Sunday. “There are things that are being planned. We don’t want to talk about it because of security reasons and everything else.”