President Trump sat in on a video call with five deployed units of each military branch on Thursday, wishing them a Happy Thanksgiving and thanking them for their service. At one point in their conversation, Trump said the military was "winning" now, but they "weren't letting" them win before.
That didn't sit well with former Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling. In an interview with CNN, Hertling said while he "thankful" the president called the troops, he would have been put off by such comments if he was on the other end of the call.
“We have been winning,” Hertling said on CNN. “You’re talking to soldiers and military personnel around the world who have been in this fight for 17 years, and to suddenly be told they’re winning now when they weren’t winning before is somewhat insulting.”
Hertling was just as critical of Trump's decision to boast about the economy. The soldiers "don't want to hear about that," he said.
Some outlets were critical of Trump's tone too. The Associated Press, for example, noted how the president used the occasion "to pat himself on the back." They provided the following excerpt to corroborate their analysis.
“Everybody’s talking about the progress you’ve made in the last few months since I opened it up,” he told the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division, whose members are conducting operations in Kandahar, Afghanistan. “We’re being talked about again as an armed forces — we’re really winning.”
Speaking from a gilded room at his Mar-a-Lago club, Trump said: “We’re not fighting anymore to just walk around, we’re fighting to win, and you people are really, you’ve turned it around over the last three to four months like nobody’s seen, and they are talking about it, so thank you very much.”
Trump may or may not have been criticizing the previous administration, but most would agree that he spoke for all Americans when he thanked the deployed units for fighting for our freedoms.
After his conversation with the troops, Trump went to help provide lunch for Coast Guard members in Riviera Beach, Florida.