Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, dropped in for an unannounced visit with U.S. military troops stationed in Iraq for a Thanksgiving meal morale booster and perhaps a bit simultaneous foreign policy maneuvering.
According to CNN, Pence’s surprise trip comes in the wake of President Donald Trump pulling U.S. military forces out of the area, leaving friendly Kurdish forces on their own to defend Turkish-led military assaults. Aside from talking with the troops, his visit was also suggested to be a fence-mending mission to reassure Kurdish forces in the area that America still stands behind them.
Pence delivered a speech to about 150 U.S. troops at Al Asad Air Force Base, located in Iraq’s western region, which involved the topic of military pay raises while taking a veiled swipe at U.S. Congress for focusing on Trump’s impeachment investigation instead of working toward taking care of U.S. service members.
“We need Congress to do their job. My fellow Americans gathered here, the truth is Congress should have finished their work on defense appropriations months ago,” Pence told the troops.
“But you all know that partisan politics and endless investigations have slowed things down a bit in Washington, DC, but I’ll make you a promise: This President, this vice president, and our administration will never stop fighting until we get you, our troops, the resources you need to accomplish your mission,” he added.
The vice president also recounted the night he sat in the White House’s Situation Room as special operations troops found and killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State terror group.
“I was there when the call came in… I’ll never forget the words: 100% confidence. Jackpot. Over. Incredible,” Pence said, eliciting applause from the troops.
Pence and his wife also took time to help serve the troops a Thanksgiving lunch, dishing out turkey and yams while personally shaking hands with the service members and thanking them for serving as they passed through the lunch line.
Happy Thanksgiving from Iraq. @SecondLady and I are so honored to be with our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines here in Iraq! We are so proud of you and thankful for you all! pic.twitter.com/bzcM1fGgiG— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) November 23, 2019
The vice president also took care of official government business while in-country, speaking in a classified briefing with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahd while also later speaking with President of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, Nechirvan Barzani.
Pence’s visit on Saturday marks the second time he’s been in the region in just over a month.
His trip to Iraq also came just a week after Jennifer Williams, a foreign policy aide to Pence, testified in front of the House Intelligence Committee with regard to the ongoing impeachment investigation into Trump, as previously reported by The Inquisitr.
Her testimony was highly anticipated by House Democrats, as she was not only one of the first White House-connected witnesses to break with the standing policy of not complying with the investigation, but she also said in her deposition that she thought Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president was “unusual and inappropriate.”