As Trump’s Military Support Wanes, He Touts Accomplishments Including New Army Uniform



With former military leaders continuing to speak out against President Donald Trump, the commander in chief took to Twitter to tout what he sees as major accomplishments for troops and veterans.

Trump said in a new White House-produced video posted to Twitter on Thursday that there has never been anything like what he has done for the military.

“We’ve spent $2.5 trillion over the term in office, my term,” Trump said. “That’s over three and a half years — think of that $2.5 trillion. I took over a depleted military, old equipment, broken equipment.”

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He noted three pay raises troops have gotten under his leadership, though military pay has gone up every year for the last three decades.

“For our military, I just want to let you know there’s never been a president that has your back like I do,” Trump added.

He also took credit for installing accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs as part of the VA Mission Act, which replaced the Veterans Choice Program.

“The VA would be treating people badly, [and] we couldn’t do anything about the people that were treating our great soldiers, our great heroes badly,” he said. “Now, you fire them right away because of accountability.”

The president has seen his support with the military and veteran communities slide in recent months. A poll of active-duty troops conducted by Military Times and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families this summer showed increasing support for Joe Biden in the upcoming election over Trump.

More than 40% of survey respondents said they strongly disapproved of Trump’s time in office, Military Times reported. That was before a damning report in The Atlantic claimed Trump referred to Marines killed in the World War I battle of Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.

“Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers,” The Atlantic reported Trump said during a 2018 trip to France where he was supposed to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery.

In a lengthy Thursday morning call with Fox Business, Trump said he has never been angrier than he was when he saw the report from The Atlantic, segments of which have been confirmed by several other news outlets. Trump has referred to the story as a hoax. Totally fake and made up, he said Thursday.

In his video message, Trump said the military has “never been better” than it is under his leadership.

“We’ve never had equipment like we have right now,” he said. “We have brand-new tanks and planes, F-35s, all of the best of everything. … We’re building a lot of ships right now — we’re getting our Navy back to where it should be.

“Nobody thought it was possible,” he added before crediting only Republican senators for the changes because “getting it from the Democrats is like pulling teeth.”

Trump also took credit for getting soldiers new uniforms they wanted. The Army has been issuing near gear based on the iconic World War II-era pinks-and-green uniform.

“All brand-new uniforms with the belt — everybody wanted the belt,” he said, referencing the new belted jacket with buckle. Army leaders said in 2017 they wanted to return to a historically accurate-looking uniform.

While defense budgets have exceeded $2.5 trillion over Trump’s time in office, The Washington Post previously gave the president “three Pinocchios” for exaggerating his investment in the military.

Trump “does not hold the record for the biggest Pentagon budget, adjusted for inflation,” the paper’s Fact Checker reported, with budgets running higher every year between 2007 and 2012 before the Budget Control Act of 2011, which imposed spending caps, kicked in during the Obama administration.

Last month, the Trump-Pence campaign released a letter signed by more than 200 retired senior military officers backing the president’s reelection. Days later, nearly 500 current and former national security leaders put out a letter endorsing Biden, which included signatures from nearly two dozen retired four-star general and flag officers.

This week, retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, who served as CIA director under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, endorsed Biden in a video for a group called Republican Voters Against Trump. Former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James also spoke out against Trump’s alleged disparaging comments about fallen troops in an opinion piece for the Colorado Springs Gazette.

“He has called general officers dopes and babies, has mocked prisoners of war, and he has questioned the integrity of career military officials,” James wrote. “According to the Atlantic Magazine and confirmed by Fox News, he even called members of our military losers and suckers. During my tenure as secretary of the Air Force, I met many airmen. Never once did I meet a loser or sucker.”

— Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

Related: Trump Says Claims He Insulted Fallen Troops a Hoax, Trashes John Kelly As Possible Source

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