- The Washington Times - Monday, February 6, 2017

In his first address to U.S. troops, President Trump vowed Monday to defeat “radical Islamic terrorists” abroad and to prevent terrorism from “taking root” in America.

“Today we deliver a message in one very unified voice to these forces of death and destruction: America and its allies will defeat you,” Mr. Trump said at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, headquarters of U.S. Central Command. “Freedom, security and justice will prevail.”

The new commander in chief uttered the phrase “radical Islamic” terrorists or terrorism three times in his brief speech. The term was forbidden by his predecessor, President Obama.

Mr. Obama thought using the term made it harder for the U.S. to get cooperation from Muslim allies for counterterrorism operations. Mr. Trump has said it’s necessary to call enemies of the U.S. by their true name.

The president called the troops “our heroes” and said his administration would provide them with better equipment and supplies to carry the fight to the extremists. His remarks were greeted by cheers and applause.

“We stand behind you, we support your mission,” Mr. Trump said. “We respect our flag. We are prepared to fight, and we pray for peace.”

Referring to his executive action barring migrants from seven terror-prone nations, a move that has since been blocked by a federal judge, Mr. Trump said his highest duty is to protect Americans.

“You’ve been seeing what’s been going on over the last few days,” the president said. “We need strong programs so that people that love us and want to love our country, and will end up loving our country, are allowed in. Not people that want to destroy us and destroy our country. We will defeat radical Islamic terrorism, and we will not allow it to take root in our country.”

The president received briefings from CENTCOM and the U.S. Special Operations Command that are based at MacDill.

CENTCOM is responsible for counterterrorism operations and oversees the Middle East, including Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Syria — four of the countries included in Mr. Trump’s immigration order.

During his address, the president also said news media are deliberately failing to report some terrorist attacks. He did not offer specific examples.

“ISIS is on a campaign of genocide, committing atrocities across the world,” Mr. Trump said, using an acronym for the Islamic State. “Radical Islamic terrorists are determined to strike our homeland as they did on 9/11, as they did from Boston to Orlando to San Bernardino, and all across Europe. It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that.”

Among those accompanying the president were White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, top White House aides Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, and Ike Perlmutter, CEO of Marvel Entertainment. Mr. Perlmutter donated $1 million to Mr. Trump’s fundraiser for veterans last year and is a longtime friend.

CENTCOM oversaw a special operations forces raid on Jan. 28 on an al Qaeda compound in Yemen, the first military operation authorized by Mr. Trump. A Navy SEAL, Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens was killed, and Mr. Trump attended a ceremony at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to honor the return of his remains.

The president didn’t directly comment on the raid but told the troops, “America stands in awe of your courage.”

“SOCOM has dispatched its legendary warriors to the most secret, sensitive and daring missions in defense of the United States of America,” Mr. Trump said. “No enemy stands a chance against our Special Forces, not even a chance. And that’s the way we’re going to keep it. And you’re going to be better off because you’re going to have the finest equipment known to man.”

Three other U.S. service members were wounded in the Yemen raid. The administration said about 14 militants were killed, and reports indicate that about a dozen civilians were killed. They included the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, an Islamist cleric and U.S. citizen who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011.

The president pledged to “make a historic financial investment in the armed forces of the United States and show the entire world that America stands with those who stand in defense of freedom.”

He said his push to get NATO members to pay more for the alliance is part of his effort to support the U.S. military.

“We have your back every hour, every day, now and always,” Mr. Trump said. “That also means getting our allies to pay their fair share. It’s been very unfair to us.”

Of the 28 countries in NATO, only five — the U.S., Greece, Poland, Estonia and Britain — pay the recommended 2 percent of gross domestic product for the common defense.

Germany spent 1.19 percent last year, and France spent 1.78 percent. Five countries — Belgium, Canada, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Spain — spent less than 1 percent.

“We strongly support NATO,” Mr. Trump said. “We only ask that all of the NATO members make their full and proper financial contributions to the NATO alliance, which many of them have not been doing. Many of them have not been even close.”

The president will attend a NATO meeting in Europe in late May.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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