Why Trump Hasn't Visited Troops Overseas Is Complicated — But He Might Change His Mind Soon
On Monday, the Washington Post reported that, for the first time in his presidency, Trump is apparently considering visiting troops stationed in combat zones. In light of this news, you're probably wondering why Trump hasn't visited troops overseas yet, despite his repeated expressions of support for the military. As it turns out, Trump reportedly has a few key reasons why he hasn't met with these deployed troops, though he may be changing his tune.
Thus far, Trump has not yet visited a war zone during his presidency. When he was asked about the issue in an interview with the Associated Press on Oct. 17, the president cited his busy schedule as the rationale for his dearth of troops visits. As Trump noted:
Well, I will do that [go to a war zone] at some point, but I don’t think it’s overly necessary. I’ve been very busy with everything that’s taking place here. We have the greatest economy in the history of our country. I mean, this is the greatest economy we’ve ever had, best unemployment numbers ... I’m doing a lot of things ... Nobody has been better at the military. Hey, I just got them a pay raise ...
The Washington Post also reported that Trump has expressed additional concerns about visiting combat zones during private discussions with White House officials. As the Post noted, Trump reportedly told a former senior White House official that he is concerned for his safety. As the official described to the paper, "He’s [Trump's] never been interested in going. He’s afraid of those situations. He’s afraid people want to kill him." The outlet also indicated that Trump has reportedly said to staffers that lengthy flights and his disapproval of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan constitute other reasons why he doesn't desire to visit combat zones.
However, as the Washington Post noted, current and former advisors who spoke with the paper say the president reportedly may be changing his mind about visiting deployed troops. This decision may stem from some of the criticism Trump has received for his failure to visit. For example, on Nov. 12, former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel slammed the president's absence from combat zones on CNN, saying:
I think it's bigger than just a misstep. I think it's a failure of an obligation – of a basic obligation of a commander in chief. He's commander in chief of our forces and not to go to a war zone where we have men and women dying, that's just wrong ...
During an interview on Fox News on Sunday, Trump seemed committed to ensuring that a combat zone visit happens sometime in the near future. "Well, I think you will see that happen. There are things that are being planned," the president said. "We don't want to talk about it because of — obviously because of security reasons and everything else ... I've had an unbelievable busy schedule and I will be doing it." The Washington Post noted that there are seemingly no concrete plans for Trump to visit troops yet, though the president has reportedly seriously discussed the idea in recent weeks.
It remains to be seen whether Trump will indeed visit troops deployed in combat zones sometime in the near future. If he does elect to visit, his trip will come much further into his presidency than the combat zone visits of his predecessors. As Business Insider reported, both Barack Obama and George W. Bush visited troops stationed in war zones early into their first terms in office.