According to BBC News, President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump made a surprise visit to the troops stationed in Iraq, just in time for Christmas. Sources indicate the couple traveled to Iraq late on Christmas night in order to thank personnel for their service to our country.
The couple posed in photos with soldiers who have been serving in Iraq, spoke with reporters, and spent quality time with the troops during the unannounced visit to Al Asad Air Base.
This marks the first time Trump has visited with soldiers serving in a combat zone during his presidency. Trump was repeatedly criticized in 2018 for taking so long to visit with frontline soldiers. Both preceding presidents before him visited Iraq within months of assuming office.
“President Trump and the First Lady traveled to Iraq late on Christmas night to visit with our troops and Senior Military leadership to thank them for their service, their success, and their sacrifice and to wish them a Merry Christmas,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Twitter on Wednesday.
While in Iraq, Trump was quick to inform reporters that he has no intentions of removing U.S. troops from the country. This announcement comes in light of the recent news that Trump had decided to withdraw all U.S. forces from neighboring Syria — a move that has increased tensions in the already wore-torn area.
Trump originally had very different plans for Christmas, however. The initial plan involved him spending the holidays at Mar-a-Largo in Florida. However, the government shutdown brought on by the debate over funding for the $5 billion border wall between Mexico and the United States brought an end to that plan.
BREAKING: Trump, during surprise visit to Iraq, says he has 'no plans at all' to withdraw U.S. troops from that country.— Jill Colvin (@colvinj) December 26, 2018
As Syrian troops may be withdrawing soon, Trump is also reportedly thinking about dramatically reducing forces in Afghanistan. This all comes despite widespread outcry from the Pentagon as well as many of Trump’s military advisers, according to USA Today. Reports indicate that up to half of the 14,000 soldiers currently stationed in Afghanistan may soon return home.
In the meantime, Trump has to contend with a government shutdown that doesn’t look to be ending anytime soon. The shutdown went into effect December 22, and it is extremely unlikely that it will be resolved before Congress resumes in early January of 2019. At that point, Congress will have the opportunity to draft a new bill that includes funding for the $5 billion border wall, or if they will stick with the bill as it currently stands.