Trump tweets video of secretive Seal team in Iraq

Trump speaks to members of the US military during an unannounced trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq.
Trump speaks to members of the US military during an unannounced trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President Donald Trump may 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, 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 special operations forces.

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 likely did not run afoul of any rules, some observers called it a breach of operational security.

Revealing identities "even if it's the commander-in-chief, would prove a propaganda boom 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 raise 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.