Tuesday 26 September 2017

Trump makes unannounced trip with daughter Ivanka to honour fallen Navy Seal

President Donald Trump, accompanied by his daughter Ivanka, waves as they walk to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump, accompanied by his daughter Ivanka, waves as they walk to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

US President Donald Trump made an unannounced trip on Wednesday to honour the returning remains of a US Navy Seal killed in a weekend raid in Yemen.

Chief Special Warfare Operator William "Ryan" Owens (36) from Peoria, Illinois, was the first known US combat casualty since Mr Trump took office less than two weeks ago.

An eight-year-old American girl was among 30 others killed in the operation on an al Qaida compound, and three other US service members were wounded.

Mr Trump's trip to Delaware's Dover Air Base was shrouded in secrecy.

The president and his daughter, Ivanka, departed the White House in the presidential helicopter with their destination unannounced.

A small group of journalists travelled with him on the condition that the visit was not reported until his arrival.

Marine One landed at Dover shortly before a C-17 believed to be carrying Owens' remains touched down.

The president was expected to meet Owens' family, who requested that the visit and the dignified transfer of the Navy Seal's remains be private.

Former president Barack Obama lifted a ban on media coverage of the dignified transfers, though families may still request privacy. A spokeswoman at Dover said about half of families choose to allow media coverage.

Owens joined the Navy in 1998 and was the recipient of two Bronze stars, a Joint Service Commendation and an Afghanistan Campaign Medal, among other honours.

His death underscores the human costs of the military campaigns Mr Trump now oversees.

Far fewer troops are serving in combat now than in the wars Mr Trump's predecessors led in Afghanistan and Iraq, but thousands of Americans remain in hotspots around the world.

In Afghanistan, where America's longest war continues, about 8,400 US troops are training and advising local forces.

More than 5,100 troops in Iraq and about 500 in Syria are involved in the campaign against Islamic State.

The US also engages in counter-terrorism operations, mainly drone strikes, in Yemen, where al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has exploited the chaos of the country's civil war.

As a candidate, Mr Trump said he would be willing to "take out" the families of terrorists in order to root out extremism. On Tuesday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said no Americans "will ever be targeted" in raids against terror suspects.

The president's trip to Dover comes as he begins weighing whether to reshape US military activities around the world.

As a candidate, he vowed to be tougher on Islamic State and at one point said he would be willing to send up to 30,000 US troops to fight the extremist group in Iraq and Syria.

Last week, Mr Trump gave the Pentagon and other agencies 30 days to submit a plan for defeating Islamic State.

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