WASHINGTON — Included with President Donald Trump’s “fake news awards” announcement this week was a separate top ten list of what Republican leaders see as his biggest accomplishments of the last year, including several items related to the military and veterans.
“While the media spent 90 percent of the time focused on negative coverage or fake news, the President has been getting results,” the release stated. It highlighted cuts in federal regulations, appointing Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and the new tax cuts legislation as issues party officials claim are under reported.
On the military side, the list touts progress in the fight against Islamic State militants in the Middle east — “ISIS is in retreat, having been crushed in Iraq and Syria” — and Trump’s “encouragement” of allies to pay more into NATO defense accounts. Both of those issues were campaign promises for Trump in 2016.
Last summer, NATO officials announced that 25 nations would boost their contributions to the alliance. In addition, Romania became the sixth country (with the United States, Greece, England, Estonia and Poland) to spend 2 percent of their country’s gross domestic product on defense, a spending target set by NATO.
Democrats and Republicans have sparred over who deserves credit for the success of American military missions against ISIS (operations began before Trump became president) but Pentagon officials have been clear about the rapid decline in the extremist group’s power in the last year.
The group has lost nearly all the terrority it once held in the Middle East, and military officials say their current missions are focused on rooting out small pockets of enemy fighters in remote areas or hiding in urban centers.
One veterans issue was listed among the top ten accomplishments: signing new Veterans Affairs accountability legislation, “to allow senior officials in the VA to fire failing employees and establishes safeguards to protect whistleblowers.”
That proposal — which was strongly opposed by former President Barack Obama — has drawn criticism from federal union officials for unfairly targeting lower-level VA workers, but drew bipartisan support when it passed Congress.
The full list is available at the Republican Party’s web site.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.