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Trump urged to visit troops in combat zones

Trump urged to visit troops in combat zones

President Donald Trump should visit U.S. troops in war zones to get a firsthand view of military operations and show gratitude to the thousands of American soldiers serving in harm’s way, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee advised Wednesday.
Nearly two years into his presidency, Trump has yet to visit troops deployed to Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan, unlike his predecessor, Barack Obama.
And in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, he expressed his view that it is not “overly necessary” to do so, even as he has intensified the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and committed additional troops to the war in Afghanistan despite personal misgivings.
That stance was seen Wednesday by some critics as a break with tradition and dismissive of the men and women in uniform.
“It should be done by the president, not just to get an idea of what’s going on, but to personally thank men and women in the uniform of the United States who are exposing themselves to great dangers for the country,” Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) told reporters.
“That goes a long way, and that’s something that the commander in chief should do,” he added.
Reed, who has visited Iraq and Afghanistan numerous times, recounted traveling to Iraq in the summer of 2008 with Obama, then a presidential candidate, and former Sen. Chuck Hagel, who would go on to serve as Obama’s Defense secretary.
The personal experience, he contended, is essential for lawmakers and the commander in chief.
“The idea of going over and telling the troops, thanking them, [is important] … but also face-to-face, on the ground, what are the problems, what are the issues,” Reed said. “Absolutely indispensable.”
But there are costs for such a high-profile tour.
Presidential visits can be disruptive to military units on the ground, and top officials can visit only a few heavily fortified locations, like Afghanistan’s Bagram Airfield. That was the only site Vice President Mike Pence stopped at during an unannounced visit to Afghanistan last December.
And rather than visiting Iraq or Syria, where thousands of U.S. troops are deployed mostly at small outposts with relatively little security, Pence dropped by a military base in neighboring Jordan where troops were supporting the fight against the Islamic State.
Obama made his first of five presidential trips to the front lines three months after taking office, while former President George W. Bush visited a half-dozen times.