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After Trump visit, Iraqi lawmakers demand US withdrawal

After Trump visit, Iraqi lawmakers demand US withdrawal

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.

Asked if the White House had distributed the hats, which appeared to be brand-new, to troops in Iraq and those who met with Trump during a refueling stop at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, press secretary Sarah Sanders told CNN they were personal items brought by the service members. Trump said he was in "no rush" to nominate a new defense chief. Trump's visit was the first by a US president since Barack Obama met with then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at a USA base outside Baghdad in 2009.

"Because now that we have our military taken care of, we have our law enforcement taken care of, we can do things that we really weren't in a position to do when I first came", Trump said in October. "Been more than 10 years, that's a long time", Trump said, repeating the false claim. "We'll be watching them very, very closely, the remnants of ISIS".

If it aided troop morale, there was no harm in this gesture other than its cost and the continuation of a long tradition of political exploitation of the US military. That's down from about 170,000 in 2007 at the height of the surge of US forces to combat sectarian violence unleashed by the USA -led invasion to topple dictator Saddam Hussein.

"We can use this as a base if we wanted to do something in Syria", he said.

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But Trump has not shied away from politicizing the military in the past, as he did during last month's controversial Thanksgiving phone call with service members stationed around the world, when he steered the conversation toward controversial political topics. "So we're going to be having the best equipment ever known".

It's reported Trump also wants to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan from 14,000 to 7,000.

Bush told reporters that had any word of the visit leaked, he would have had to turn around.

According to Kirby, Trump's actions during the trip to Iraq stem from his misguided understanding of the relationship between a commander in chief and the military.

Trump had planned to spend Christmas at his private club in Florida, but stayed behind in Washington due to the partial government shutdown. Bush said that insurgents who were testing America's commitment in Iraq would not be rewarded with a US retreat. The Pentagon is also said to be developing plans to withdraw up to half of the 14,000 American troops still serving in Afghanistan.