Trump Lands in Germany to Meet With Troops at Ramstein Air Base

By Melanie Sun
Melanie Sun
Melanie Sun
Melanie is an Australian-based reporter and editor covering world news. She has a background in environmental research and joined The Epoch Times in 2017.
December 26, 2018 Updated: December 27, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have landed in Germany to thank more American troops during the Christmas holiday as Air Force One makes its way back from a surprise visit to troops in Iraq.

The president and first lady greeted troops at the Ramstein Air Base about 2:30 a.m. local time on Dec. 27.

It was the couple’s second visit to U.S. troops who are serving overseas.

The President and First Lady slowly made their way down a rope line at the Ramstein base, shaking hands and chatting with the active service members who are away from their families during Christmas. Hundreds of uniformed service members at the base posed for a photo with the couple. Many also held up “Make America Great Again” caps for the President to sign.

President Trump later met with half a dozen U.S. Air Force leaders who are based in Germany aboard Air Force One at the air base.

The Trumps’ visit to Iraq and Germany were not made public until after Air Force One had landed.

Trump told troops stationed at Al Asad Air Base, “We came to Al Asad to share our eternal gratitude for everything you do to keep America safe, strong, and free.

“Though you are thousands of miles away from your home and your loved ones, I hope you all had a merry Christmas.

“I also know that, speaking for your families, they are missing you and they love you and, you know, they’re every bit a part of your success; they make it possible,” the president said. “So they’re very special to us, all of the families.” The U.S. has more than 5,000 troops stationed in Iraq.

Trump also spoke to military commanders and the U.S. ambassador while in Iraq and, according to White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, they “came up with a powerful plan that will allow us to continue our path to total victory” over the ISIS terrorist group.

The trip to Iraq was the president’s first visit to troops serving abroad since taking office. Iraqi political and militia leaders have since condemned the visit as a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty.

Sanders said a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi could not be arranged in time due to security concerns and the short notice of the trip. She said the two leaders had a “great call” and that Abdul Mahdi had accepted an invitation from the president to visit The White House in the New Year.

The surprise visit comes just days after Trump announced he was withdrawing American troops from neighboring Syria, saying with the defeat of ISIS, it is time to let U.S. allies take over in the war-torn country.

“Now that we have done so, the nations of the region must step up and take more responsibility for their future,” Trump said in his speech to the troops at Al Asad Air Base. “They have to confront those remnants of ISIS and take them out very easily.”

Trump indicated there would be a “strong, deliberate, and orderly withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria” and the United States would maintain a presence in Iraq to “prevent an ISIS resurgence and to protect U.S. interests,” as well as “watch over Iran.”

“We’ll be watching,” Trump said. “Each nation of the world must decide for itself what kind of future it wants to build for its people, and what kind of sacrifices they are willing to make for their children.”

“America shouldn’t be doing the fighting for every nation on Earth not being reimbursed, in many cases, at all,” Trump added. “If they want us to do the fighting, they also have to pay a price—and sometimes that’s also a monetary price—so we’re not the suckers of the world … We’re respected again as a nation.”

“We want to fight for the meaningful things,” he said.

Trump’s predecessors, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, also made surprise trips to visit the troops. For security reasons, the visits are usually kept secret until after the president arrives.

Trump said his main security concern was for the first lady and related to how Air Force One took special precautions when landing in Iraq.

“I had concerns for the institution of the presidency, not for myself personally,” he said. “I had concerns for the first lady, I will tell you but if you would have seen what we had to go through … with the darkened plane, with all windows closed, with no light on whatsoever; pitch black … I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Zachary Stieber, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Melanie Sun
Melanie Sun
Melanie is an Australian-based reporter and editor covering world news. She has a background in environmental research and joined The Epoch Times in 2017.