Since U.S. forces returned to Iraq in 2014, the base has played an important role in the fight against Islamic State because of its location. "We're respected again as a nation".
During President Donald Trump's unannounced visit to troops in Iraq on Wednesday-his first trip to troops deployed to a combat zone since he was elected-he admitted he had been concerned about making the trip.
The Afghanistan withdrawal order came alongside Trump's abrupt announcement last week that he would pull all 2000 USA troops from Syria, a decision made against the counsel of his top advisers and without warning allies in the fight there against the Islamic State. The US president stayed at the air base west of Baghdad for more than three hours.
Mr Trump is planning to pull half of the 14,000 U.S. military from Afghanistan, but U.S. forces are set to stay in Iraq. He says that's a job that should be shouldered by other rich nations.
During his remarks, the Commander-in-Chief encouraged US service members to keep up the fight and vowed to continue the fight against ISIS from Iraq. He is back on Air Force One and will make an another stop, which has not been announced, on his way back to Washington. The plane, which was not using the standard Air Force One call sign, was tracked flying from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, the typical venue for presidential departures, through the Middle East. Photos showed the aircraft was decked out in the normal presidential insignia.
They and other officials warned Trump that leaving the region now would allow for ISIS, or another terror group, to regain a foothold.
"President Trump and the First Lady travelled to Iraq late on Christmas night to visit with our troops and Senior Military leadership to thank them for their service, their success, and their sacrifice and to wish them a Merry Christmas", Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House spokeswoman, said in a tweet.
He left Washington amid enormous turmoil in the U.S.
Prior to the visit, Trump had faced criticism for breaking with an annual tradition since 2003 of presidents visiting troops deployed overseas around the Christmas holiday.
US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to retire
Mattis, along with other national security aides, was said to have opposed Trump's decision to remove US troops from Syria . He served as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security before being selected by Trump as his chief of staff.
Turkey views the Kurdish-led force USA troops have relied on to roll back the Islamic State in Syria as enemies, and Pentagon officials worry Turkish forces will massacre the Kurds while failing to prevent a resurgence of ISIS. The trip also comes after Trump announced that he was pulling USA forces out of neighboring Syria.
A decade-and-a-half after the start of the United States war, which has cost almost 5,000 American troops their lives, Iraq remains a unsafe place.
Trump said in the country on Wednesday he had no plans to pull troops from Iraq, suggesting the country could be used as a base for potential future missions in Syria.
"We're no longer the suckers, folks", Trump told American servicemen and women at a base in western Iraq.
"If we see something happening with ISIS that we don't like, we can hit them so fast and so hard they really won't know what the hell happened", Trump added about the militant group that he has said is defeated, as Bloomberg News reported. We've knocked them out. I had concerns for the first lady, I will tell you.
Mr Trump defended his decision to withdraw from Syria during the visit, saying that many people are going to start seeing things the same way he does.
He visited Afghanistan four times while in office.
Trump, accompanied by wife Melania, traveled to meet troops deployed in a war zone for the first time since the beginning of his presidency.