President Donald Trump surprised American troops in Afghanistan for Thanksgiving, showing up unannounced and in much secrecy. He arrived just in time to help serve dinner to the soldiers before finally taking a seat and sharing the meal with them. As the group ate, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was streaming live in the background, bringing a little bit of home to the men and women who could not be with their families for the holiday.
Trump spent about three hours in the war zone, taking time to meet with Afghan president Ashraf Ghani and then the two leaders addressed the troops to thank them for their service. Trump said, “There’s nowhere I’d rather spend Thanksgiving than with the toughest, fiercest warriors. I’m here to say Happy Thanksgiving and thank you very much.” He then told them that everyone was working hard to bring them home. “We will continue to work tirelessly for the day when all of you can go home to your families,” he said. “… and that day is coming very soon.”
It was a great surprise for the men and women serving our country, but it wasn’t an easy task to pull off. As president, Trump is always surrounded by security and members of his cabinet, not to mention the dozens of reporters always trying to get pictures of him. Because Afghanistan is a war zone, extreme safety measures had to be taken, which meant getting the president there in secret.
It started with Trump leaving Florida on a nondisclosed plane Wednesday evening. Phones and other electronics were taken from the few officials that went with him, and although the president greeted his staff after boarding, he remained in the cockpit, out of sight, during takeoff.
At Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, the passengers switched over to Air Force One. That very recognizable aircraft was kept hidden in a hanger so that no one would suspect the president would be traveling anywhere. When the plane took off, all the windows were drawn, and the interior lights were shut off so that it would be less noticeable.
After 16 hours of total travel, Air Force One landed in Afghanistan on an unlit runway. Even the country’s president was unaware of Trump’s upcoming visit until just a few hours before the arrival. Other efforts were made to make sure the secret flight was not discovered, such as preset tweets scheduled to go out at certain times to make it look like the president was home enjoying the holiday with his family.
Journalists were not allowed to report on Trump’s visit until it had concluded and he was back on Air Force One to return home. The secret strategy worked so well that even Newsweek had to scramble to rewrite an article that had talked about how the president would be spending Thanksgiving golfing and tweeting.
But it looks as though everything went off without a hitch, and American troops were gifted with a surprise visit from their president.