President Donald Trump sent his thanks to the American military in a Thanksgiving Day conference call with troops from all the five military branches. He expressed his and the American people’s appreciation for the troops and their ensuring the nation’s security.
Trump called from his Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago mansion in Florida, sharing a conversation with representatives of the individual branches, the Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy, Army, and Marine Corps.
The first one he addressed during the 27-minute call was Air Force Brig. Gen. David Lyons, who oversees the Bagram and Kandahar airfields in Afghanistan as well as detachments throughout the country.
“Both the Taliban and ISIS [terrorist groups] are resilient adversaries, but I think that we’re doing well. We get after him every single day,” Lyons said, describing the situation. “Our objective here is to fight the away game. And so what I mean by that is we never want this adversary to reach our shores again. So every airman here is dedicated to keeping this fight away from our shores. A stable Afghanistan is good for Afghanistan, but we do what we do for America, sir.”
“You said it better than anybody could have said,” Trump replied, segueing into his sending troops to back Border Patrol at the southern border to prevent the illegal entry of criminals hiding among migrant caravans from Central America that are trying to enter the United States.
“Keep them away from our shores,” Trump said. “That’s why we’re doing the strong borders.”
Trump next spoke with Lt. Nicholas Hartmann, commander of Coast Guard cutter Aquidneck operating in Southwest Asia and currently in Bahrain.
“A lot of our work is partnering and building relationships with the Gulf Coast countries so that we have a good standing and resolve here in the Arabian Gulf,” Hartmann said. “Things, in my opinion, Mr. President, are going very well for us.”
Trump went on to ask about the situation in the region: “How are they feeling about trade?”
Aquidneck patrols the Strait of Hormuz, a 21-mile wide trade choke point between the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. About 30 percent of the world’s seaborne oil shipments have to make their way through the strait. In July, Iran threatened to block it.
“We don’t see any issues in terms of trade right now,” Hartmann said.
“Ok. Well, you’ll keep it that way,” Trump said.
The president then thanked the Coast Guard for helping with the federal response to a slew of hurricanes that hit the southeast of the country earlier in the year.
“You guys went out there and you did, like, just a day in the office and I really appreciate it, we all really appreciate it,” Trump said.
He then spoke to Army Col. Stephanie Barton, commander of the Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade, which provides logistical support to troops in Afghanistan. “If it comes in the theater, we get it in the warfighters’ hands,” Barton said.
Trump didn’t forget to mention his achievement of boosting the military budget to $716 billion in fiscal year 2019. “You see a big difference, an awfully big difference from what we had before,” he said.
Next in line was Marine Corps Lt. Col. Samuel Howie stationed in Kuwait. There are Marines stationed throughout the Middle East ensuring “that those who do us harm pay for it,” he said.
“Do they treat you good?” Trump asked.
“They treat us like gold,” Howie said, adding that the Ahmad al-Jaber Air Base had prepared a “fantastic Thanksgiving dinner” for the troops.
Last was Navy Capt. Pat Hannifin, who answered from the Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong on behalf of the more than 4,800 sailors and airmen aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan.
Trump questioned the captain about the new electromagnetic catapult technology helping launch fighter jets on the USS Gerald Ford. The military had some problems getting the catapults to work properly, but Hannifin said he had no doubt they’ll “work through that.”
Regarding safety in the region, where China has been flexing its military muscles for years, Hannifin said they felt safe, though “there have been a couple of close calls.”
Trump concluded the call with a few more words of appreciation and well wishes.
“Happy Thanksgiving and we will see you soon!” he said.