Trump Takes Credit for Security Wins, Warns Allies Can Turn

Updated on
  • In Thanksgiving remarks, says can’t know if ally could turn
  • He promises troops they’ll come home to a “good economy”

US President Donald Trump 

Photographer: Jim Watson/Getty Images

President Donald Trump, in a Thanksgiving address to troops, credited his policies for allowing progress in Afghanistan and against Islamic State, and warned about sending sophisticated weapons to American allies that one day could become the enemy.

“Everybody is talking about the progress you’ve made in the last few months since I opened it up,” Trump told the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan, during a morning video call from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. “We’re not fighting anymore to just walk around. We’re fighting to win. You’ve turned it around over the last three to four months like nobody has seen, and they are talking about it.”

Where candidate Trump had suggested U.S. engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq was a waste of time, one year later the Commander-In-Chief embraced tackling the conflicts and the notion of lasting U.S. military wins with continued engagement. He also promised the military officials that once they came home they would return to a good economy, job opportunities and hopefully “big, fat, beautiful tax cuts.”

Trump, speaking later Thursday morning during a visit to the coast guard station in Lake Worth Inlet in Florida, thanked a group of officers for rescuing people trapped by deadly storms that pummeled the southeastern U.S. coast this year, including Hurricanes Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida. Trump touted planned new investments for the military, citing a $700 billion defense policy bill that Congress has sent for his signature.

Trump said his administration is ordering ships for the Navy and that the Air Force is getting new planes, including Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 fighter jets, which he said operated “almost like an invisible fighter.”

Invisible Plane

“I was asking the Air Force guys, I said how good is this plane?” said Trump. “You know, a fight, like I watch on the movies, a fight, they’re fighting, how good is this? They said, it wins every time because the enemy cannot see it.”

He also said he’s changing the “sad” situation in which the U.S. defense industry had been selling its best equipment to foreign nations. “You know when we sell to other countries, even if they’re allies, you never know about an ally – an ally can turn,” he said. “I always say make ours a little bit better, give it that extra speed. Keep about 10 percent in the bag, because nobody has what we have.”

By video-conference call, Trump also greeted Marines in Iraq with a “Semper fi” -- the Marine Corps motto, which means “always loyal” in Latin -- and praised them for “delivering defeat after defeat to ISIS.” “We are being talked about again as an armed forces,” he said. “We are really winning, we know how to win. But we have to let you win.

“They weren’t letting you win before, they were letting you play even,” he said of his predecessors Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

Navy Address

He also addressed Navy members on the USS Monterey at sea, an Air Force expeditionary fighter squadron at Incirlik, Turkey, and Coast Guard members on USCG Wrangell at Kuwait Navy Base.

The president had a Thanksgiving message for journalists spending the holiday covering him. Promising the military they could have a confidential conversation once the press had been escorted from the room, Trump told the protective pool to “get out. And I’ll say, ‘You’re fired!’”

“And by the way, media, Happy Thanksgiving, I must say. Have a good Thanksgiving in Palm Beach, Florida.”

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