In an unannounced trip to Iraq on Wednesday, President Donald Trump staunchly defended his decision to withdraw USA forces from neighboring Syria despite a drumbeat of criticism from military officials and allies who don't think the job fighting Islamic State militants there is over.
Ever the irrepressible liar and braggart, Trump boasted to the troops that when he took office they had not received a pay raise for 10 years and that he overrode his aides to deliver a hike of more than 10 percent.
While a lot of the immediate backlash seems to be related to Trump cancelling his visit with the Iraqi PM over a disagreement on location, the ruling bloc and its leader Moqtada al-Sadr have long spoken out about the need for Iraq to get out from under the domination of foreign powers and seek a more independent future. "Make it more than 10 percent, '" Trump told the troops. "I got you a big one." - remarks prompting cheers Wednesday at al-Asad Air Base in Iraq. "That was the hardest one to get, but you never had a chance of losing".
Trump's suggestion that he had to fight for the raises is also hardly truthful, since the National Defense Authorization Act, which dictates how much the troops will be paid, passed with bipartisan support. 2019's raise is the largest in nine years.
Trump and First Lady Melania Trump made the unannounced trip to Al Asad Air Base about a week after the President made the controversial decision to pull USA troops out of Syria, which borders Iraq.
However, according to ABC, the pace of withdrawal could actually be far slower, appearing to confirm the president's statement during a surprise trip to Iraq on Wednesday when he said there would be a "strong, deliberate and orderly withdrawal" of U.S. forces from Syria, where they have been helping battle Islamic State jihadists.
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"We're no longer the suckers, folks", a bomber jacket-wearing Trump told USA troops during his visit to Iraq. We could make it 4%.' I said: 'No. The Military Times reported that Trump's initial pay raise proposal was for 2.1 percent, but lawmakers approved the higher 2.4 percent mark.
Trump arrived back in Washington in the pre-dawn hours today, capping a 29-hour and six-minute trip to the conflict region conducted under the cover of night.
Trump not only told the troops that he got them a fictional raise but he made up a scenario in which people didn't want to give them a raise, but he fought the fictional opposition for the troops because that's the kind of stand-up guy he is.
The president's visit may have upset another important USA ally, McCaffrey added.
But for the last few months, Trump has indicated that he planned to reverse course and tighten the Defense Department's belt.
On Sunday, Trump said in a tweet that he had spoken with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan about a "slow and highly coordinated" withdrawal of the US troops, suggesting that he might slow down the process after the barrage of criticism.