In a statement to a group of governors on Monday, President Donald Trump appeared to slam the military, saying: “We never win, and we don’t fight to win.” At least, that's how some veterans are taking it.
Trump said that the current military spending of $6 trillion is "unacceptable," and proposed a 10 percent budget increase for defense spending. However the speech took its most controversial turn when he seemed to insinuate that the military isn't interested in winning fights anymore.
“We have to win. We have to start winning wars again," Trump said. "I have to say, when I was young, in high school and college, everybody used to say we never lost a war. We never lost a war. You remember, some of you were right there with me, you remember, America never lost.”
The president’s words sparked instant backlash from both members of the military and civilians.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D- Illinois), an Iraq war vet, made a powerful statement shortly after Trump's remarks.
The President — who has never served in uniform and thinks he knows better than generals with real combat experience — said that our troops ‘don’t fight to win’ anymore. Well, as someone who fought to protect his right to say offensive things, I have a message for President Trump. Our troops do fight to win, but if the commander-in-chief believes they don’t, then he should tell the American people why he’s ordering them to remain in harm’s way.
She elaborated in a Facebook post:
For someone who has never served and thinks he knows more than Generals with real combat experience to say these things is disgusting. It’s yet more evidence that President Trump is not fit to be commander-in-chief. Not only are the President’s remarks not truthful, they are offensive to every man and woman who has ever worn this great nation’s uniform—including thousands currently deployed and in danger.
VoteVets, a non-profit organization for veterans that has continuously opposed Trump, tweeted a response to his comments, calling into question a previous decision of Trump's as commander-in-chief — the Yemen raid that ended in the death of Navy SEAL William "Ryan" Owens.
Once again, we reiterate our call for IMMEDIATE Congressional hearings into whether Trump has lied about the raid. https://t.co/giZylmwcL7
— VoteVets (@votevets) March 1, 2017
The president's remarks on the military came a day before he honored Owens during his first joint address to Congress. In that Tuesday night speech, Trump — in stark contrast to his comments the previous day — said: "Our veterans have delivered for this nation — and now we must deliver for them." He said that Owens was part of a "highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future." The success of the raid has been called into question.