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Donald Trump

In war-zone blunder, Donald Trump tweets video revealing secret US Navy Seal team in Iraq

  • The whereabouts of US special operations forces are usually a closely guarded secret
  • But because the US president has broad authority to declassify information, Donald Trump’s tweet is unlikely to have broken any rules
PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 December, 2018, 12:58am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 December, 2018, 9:33am

US President Donald Trump appears to have inadvertently unmasked a Navy Seal team during his short visit to a US base in Iraq this week.

Ordinarily, the whereabouts of special operations forces are a closely held secret. In the rare instances when they are filmed while in a combat zone, their faces and other identifying features are usually blurred out.

But after his lightning trip to Al-Asad Air Base in western Iraq on Wednesday, his first to a war zone as president, Trump tweeted a video of him posing for photos with US troops, shaking their hands and signing mementos.

In one scene, he is giving a thumbs up alongside a group of what appear to be US Navy Seals.

How Donald Trump gave away his secret war zone trip

According to the pool report of the event, held in a dining hall at the base, a man called Kyu Lee told Trump he was the chaplain for Seal Team Five.

Lee recalled Trump telling him: “Hey, in that case, let’s take a picture.”

While the president has broad authority to declassify information, so his tweet probably did not run afoul of any rules, some observers called it a breach of operational security.

Donald Trump surprises troops with secret trip to Iraq, his first presidential visit to a war zone

Revealing identities “even if it’s the commander-in-chief, would prove a propaganda boon if any of this personnel are detained by a hostile government or captured by a terrorist group”, Malcolm Nance, a former US Navy intelligence specialist told Newsweek.

Special Operations Command (SOCOM) did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump also drew criticism in the US for repeating a previously debunked claim that he had secured military members a pay rise for the first time in 10 years, when in fact the Pentagon has increased pay each year.

In Iraq following the visit, pro-Iran lawmakers called for the government to expel US forces.