On Wednesday, Dec. 26, while all of us were recovering from holiday festivities and eating our weight in Christmas leftovers, President Donald Trump shocked everyone when news broke that he made a surprise visit to see soldiers deployed in Iraq. Seeing as Trump's lack of war zone visits has caused some controversy throughout his presidency, one would assume that this surprise visit would be good news to many. Well, unfortunately for him, Donald Trump's tweet about visiting Iraq might have done more harm than good, given that he may have revealed sensitive information about military operations there. Elite Daily reached out to the White House and Department of Defense for comment about the video Trump shared on Twitter, but did not hear back in time for publication.
Why was Trump's visit such a controversy? Well, it wasn't so much the visit itself that was a serious faux-pas, but how he shared the news. That day, Trump took to Twitter to post a video of him posing with members of special operation forces, more specifically what appear to be members of Navy SEAL Team 5. In the video, a montage plays of Trump and first lady Melania Trump posing next to soldiers, shaking their hands, attending meetings, and delivering a speech. The president also took a photo with the team's chaplain.
However, the fact that Trump didn't shield any of the soldiers' faces, and shared that Iraq's Al Asad Air Base was their deployment location, is a huge misstep. Information pertaining to where units are deployed is generally meant to remained classified and sharing that information is a "violation of operational security," per Newsweek. Secondly, seeing as the nature of these Navy SEAL's jobs are highly sensitive, it's typical to blur out soldiers' faces when sharing photos of war zone visits, to keep their identities safe. Elite Daily reached out to the U.S. Department of Defense for comment about the video, but did not hear back in time for publication. And although the president does have the authority to declassify information, doing it via Twitter seems a little unusual.
Trump's visit to the air base during Christmas surprised everyone, especially since he reportedly planned to spend Christmas at at his Florida resort Mar-a-Lago (those plans were canceled following the government shutdown). This Iraq visit marks Trump's first time ever visiting soldiers stationed in a combat zone during his nearly two years in office, despite his constant comments praising and supporting the military. For comparison, President Barack Obama visited U.S. soldiers for the first time as president during his first year in office in 2009, but before that he also visited Iraq in July 2008 as a U.S. senator during his presidential campaign.
Trump's visit is also unlikely to distract anyone from the current partial government shutdown that kicked off on Friday, Dec. 21. Over the past few weeks, Trump has consistently threatened to shut down the government as a way to secure funding for his $5 billion U.S.-Mexico border wall, which Congress was unwilling to approve. Prior to the shut down, Democrats did offer a substantial amount of $1.3 billion for border security, but apparently that wasn't enough for Trump. So, as of Dec. 21 the United States is officially in a partial government shutdown, and apparently there's no sign that it'll be ending anytime soon.
From government shutdowns to possibly revealing military secrets, December truly hasn't been the best month for Trump. I guess we'll just have to see what the new year has in store for all of us.