The death of Navy SEAL Charlie Keating IV
in Northern Iraq clearly shows that there are U.S. troops in combat, even if the White House doesn't want to admit it, Sen. Dan Sullivan said Thursday.
"I want to express deep sympathies and respect for the families of the fallen and wounded, [as] we're seeing more of this," the Alaska Republican told MSNBC
's "Morning Joe" program.
"Clearly he and others are in combat. This is a big issue because you have a huge disconnect between the White House, the president, and press secretary saying we don't have troops in combat."
However, Sullivan continued, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford both told the Armed Services Committee, of which Sullivan is a member, that "absolutely, unequivocally there are men and women in combat in the Middle East, whether dropping bombs in Syria and Iraq."
And Sullivan, who has served in the United States Marine Corps since 1993 on active duty and in the Reserves, said he does not know why the White House won't admit the military action, unless it might be "some kind of legacy" issue with President Barack Obama, who has said combat forces would be removed.
"It just undermines his credibility," said Sullivan. "It further diminishes respect for the men and women who are serving over there. They know they are in combat. The American people know they are in combat. What I think the White House needs to do is just acknowledge it. That will help them with their credibility with regard to what we're doing over there in terms of the strategy to defeat ISIS."
Also on the program, Sullivan said he'll support Donald Trump as the likely GOP presidential nominee.
"Trump and even Bernie Sanders have tapped into frustrations, and I think that frustration is hugely reflected by the fact that we can't grow the economy anymore," said Sullivan, noting that he doesn't always agree with everything Trump says on policy and using his call for the U.S. to spend less on NATO
as an example.
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