President Donald Trump made his first official appearance before the U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, on Monday, and he used the opportunity to let America’s military know that his administration sees the nation’s armed forces, and its ongoing fight against terror, as its number one priority.
“We are going to be taking care of our great veterans. We will make a historic financial investment in the armed forces of the United States, and show the entire world that American stands with those who stand in defense of freedom,” Trump said from his podium at CENTCOM. “We have your back, every hour of every day, now and always.”
Trump took the opportunity to reaffirm America’s commitment to NATO, while still taking member states to task for failing to live up to their financial obligations to the international organization. Every NATO nation is required to devote two percent of their gross domestic product to defense spending. Only five of the 38 member nations, including the United States and Britain, have met that requirement in recent years.
“It also means getting our allies to pay their fair share. It’s been very unfair to us. We strongly support NATO. We only ask that all NATO members make their full and proper financial contributions to the NATO alliance, which many of them have not been doing.”
Trump addressed concerns about the American military’s ability to maintain its tactical advantage throughout the globe, as each branch has suffered from budget cuts due to sequestration, as well as personnel cuts under the Obama administration.
“You’ve been lacking a little equipment; we’re going to load it up. You’re going to get a lot of equipment,” Trump said after calling the U.S. military’s current situation “depleted” and promising to reinvest in the armed forces.
The president did take a jab at the “dishonest press,” chiding them for “ignoring aspects” of the war on terrorism, likely regarding the critical response he received after signing an executive order halting immigrants from seven primarily Muslim nations from entering the United States, though he did not address the currently contested executive order directly at any point in the speech. He did, however, draw some cheers when he said that he would keep people out that want “to destroy us and destroy our country.”
He credited the men and women of the armed forces for their efforts in the Global War on Terror, but made it clear that the fighting was far from over, suggesting that terrorist organizations are actively attempting to attack the United States, not just overseas, but within its borders.
“The challenges facing our nation, nevertheless, are very large. Very, very large. We’re up against an enemy that celebrates death and totally worships destruction. ISIS is on a campaign of genocide, committing atrocities across the world. Radical Islamic terrorists are determined to strike our homeland.”
He concluded his speech with a statement to ISIS and other terrorist organizations the world over:
“So today we deliver a message in one, very unified voice. To these forces of death and destruction: America and her allies will defeat you. We will defeat them.”
Image courtesy of NBC News