At a press conference on Monday following a briefing by top military officials at the White House, Donald Trump made a surprising claim. He claimed that at the start of his term, the United States military had run out of ammunition. Trump’s seemingly implausible assertion was reported via Twitter by Vox reporter Aaron Rupar.
In the statement, Trump reminisced about “when I took over out military,” saying that “a top general, maybe the top of them all” told him that the military was essentially defenseless, with no ammunition.
“‘Sir, I’m sorry sir, we don’t have ammunition,'” Trump quoted the “top of them all” general as telling him. “I said, ‘I will never let that happen to another president,'” Trump claims to have replied.
But is Trump’s claim true? Had the United States military somehow run out of “ammunition” during President Barack Obama’s term?
The answer is no. At no point was the U.S. military out of ammunition. But Trump’s anecdote may have had its origins in one of two incidents that allegedly occurred early in his term in 2017. And both incidents involved now-former Defense Secretary James Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general who also served as top commander of the United States Central Command, the unified command of military forces primarily in the Middle East.
In one possible origin of Trump’s “no ammunition” tale, according to Business Insider, in February of 2017 when Trump had been in office only about one month, he proposed a budget that increased spending on the Defense Department while slashing funds for the Department of State.
But Mattis told Trump that the State Department also played an indispensable role in preventing wars from breaking out. According to the BI report, Mattis jokingly told Trump, “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately.”
Trump may have taken Mattis’s statement to mean that the military possessed no ammunition at all. But in another incident, quoted by CNN reporter Daniel Dale via Twitter, Trump once claimed that Mattis advised him against a military strike against an unspecified country, supposedly telling Trump, “Sir, we’re very low on ammunition.”
TRUMP, TODAY: “When I took over our military we didn’t have ammunition.”
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) October 8, 2019
But according to Dale, a key indication that Trump is likely fabricating a particular anecdote is when he quotes another man addressing him as “Sir.” As The Inquisitr reported, Dale in his research has collected dozens of instances in which Trump describes another man — often a man Trump describes as “big and strong,” and holding a stereotypically masculine occupation such as steelworker or farmer.
“Listen to this president long enough, and you can almost sense when a lie is coming,” Dale explained. “If Trump tells a story in which an unnamed person calls him ‘sir,’ it’s probably invented.”