Donald Trump seems to screw up everything his gut tells him to do. That is unfortunate, because his gut is the only thing that he trusts, which is often wrong, and all the professionals seem to be jumping ship. The president finally made his first trip to visit the military in a combat zone, and he blew it big time.
POTUS gave remarks to 100 members of the military. Most of them were US special operations troops. They were assigned to combat operations in Iraq and Syria. Trump stopped to take a selfie with US Navy Lieutenant Commander and chaplain for SEAL Team Five out of Coronado, California, then the president had an idea.
The chaplain explained that Trump said, according to The Newsweek Magazine:
‘Hey, in that case, let’s take a picture.’
As soon as Air Force One was in the air and past Iraqi airspace, Trump got out his Twitter machine and posted the photo of First Lady Melania Trump posing with SEAL Team Five.
They made a fine backdrop dressed in full battle gear with their night vision goggles. Lee Greenwood’s God Bless The USA played under the video. The Twitter video cut to the president shaking hands with them, then on to other special ops people and support troops.
Former US Navy intelligence specialist Malcolm Nance was incensed over Trump’s photo exposing the SEALs. He said that any time a video was posted, that was a break in traditional procedures. Normally, those are strictly enforced, because they are there to protect the special ops forces, especially in a combat zone:
‘Operational security is the most important aspect of personnel deployments. The real names, faces, and identities, of personnel involved in special operations or activities, are usually a closely held secret in a combat zone. Revealing them casually, through an unusual media exposure even if it’s the commander in chief (sic), would prove a propaganda boom if any of this personnel are detained by a hostile government or captured by a terrorist group. There would be no denying who you are and what you do.’
Typically, the individual faces of special ops team members are blurred, because their job is so sensitive. Their location and mission are not revealed either. Both former and current Defense Department officials reported to Newsweek that the reason special ops personnel avoid cameras was that the information about them is rarely unclassified and always a violation of operations security.
Trump complained about how difficult it was for him to come in under a shield of darkness late Christmas Day. POTUS and FLOTUS arrived at the al-Asad air base and posed with the military members and signed autographs. Both he and the White House communications team indicated that a SEAL team was sent to Iraq after the president’s visit and his exposure of SEAL Team Five to the enemy.
A Defense Department official from the Pentagon spoke to Newsweek only on the condition of anonymity:
‘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. I don’t recall another time where special operation forces had to pose with their faces visible while serving in a war zone.’
Featured image is a US Department of Defense screenshot via YouTube.