President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visit with members of the military at a dining hall at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (AP)

Trump's very first visit to the troops stirs up trouble in Iraq

President Trump visited Iraq on Wednesday — and the trip did not go well for him


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Matthew Rozsa
December 27, 2018 2:49PM (UTC)

President Donald Trump's visit to Iraq on Wednesday ended with controversy as the president lied about a military pay raise, exposed sensitive military information and prompted Iraqi lawmakers to demand that American troops leave their country.

"You protect us. We are always going to protect you. And you just saw that, 'cause you just got one of the biggest pay raises you've ever received. ... You haven't gotten one in more than 10 years. More than 10 years. And we got you a big one. I got you a big one. I got you a big one," Trump told the US troops at Al Asad Air Base on Wednesday, according to CNN.

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He later added, "They had plenty of people that came up, they said, 'You know, we could make it smaller. We could make it 3%, we could make it 2%, we could make it 4%.' I said, 'No. Make it 10%. Make it more than 10%.' Cause it's been a long time, it's been more than 10 years. Been more than 10 years, that's a long time."

In fact, America's troops have received an automatic pay raise every year for more than three decades. While the pay raise authorized by the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act was the largest in nine years, it only amounted to a 2.6 percent pay raise.

Apart from Trump's dishonesty about military pay raises, his trip was controversial because it prompted the Iraqi parliament to demand that US troops leave the country. While 5,000 US troops are currently there, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle demanded that they leave on the grounds that his spontaneous appearance was arrogant and violated their nation's sovereignty, according to the Associated Press.

Finally, there is controversy over the fact that Trump wound up giving away the location of U.S. Navy Seal Team Five. As New York Magazine reported:

In the pool report of the trip — which was embargoed to help protect the Trumps’ safety in Iraq — the president asked the chaplain of Seal Team Five, Lieutenant Commander Kyu Lee, to take a picture with him, revealing the presence of the special ops team at the al-Asad Airbase in western Iraq. When Trump left Iraqi airspace, he posted a video in which he and the First Lady pause for photos with members of Seal Team Five, decked in full battle gear and night vision goggles.

"The deployments of special operation forces, including Navy SEALs are almost classified events, as to protect those men and women that are on the front lines of every overt and covert conflict the United States is involved in. Even during special operation demonstrations for congressional delegations or for the president or vice president, personnel either have their faces covered or their face is digitally blurred prior to a release to the general public," one Defense Department official told Newsweek in response to Trump's actions in Iraq.


Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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