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Trump Responds to General's Prediction of 'Big A-- Fight' on Horizon

President Trump speaks during a news conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg during a joint news conference with President Donald Trump, in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
President Trump speaks during a news conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg during a joint news conference with President Donald Trump, in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

When Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told Marines deployed to Norway in December that he believed a war is coming, the prediction made international headlines.

But asked Wednesday about Neller's remark, President Donald Trump said he sees things differently.

"I hope I'm wrong, but there's a war coming, there's a big a-- fight coming," Neller told Marines at Vaernes Garrison, near Trondheim, during a brief visit. " ... It's coming and your unit's responsibility is to get you ready. Your responsibility is to exert yourself in that preparation."

Military.com exclusively reported the remarks.

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During a joint press conference between Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Trump at the White House on Wednesday, a reporter from a Norwegian broadcasting organization asked the president about the remarks.

"Mr. President, how imminent is that big war, and where will it take place?" the reporter asked.

Trump said he sees things differently, predicting a "long period of peace," in the nation's future.

"Maybe [Neller] knows something that I don't know," Trump said. "I would say this: We have a very powerful military. We're getting more powerful by the month, by the day. We're ordering a lot of the equipment that you're ordering. We're ordering it, but in larger amounts, to put it mildly. We're building up our military to a point that we've never been before."

During the presser, Trump also discussed Norway's purchase of the American-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, saying the United States makes the best warfighting equipment.

Trump said he predicts "peace through strength" and said he is optimistic about talks surrounding North Korea.

"I think the military will be stronger than it ever was in a short period of time, and that's my opinion," he said. "That's not the general's opinion, but I think my opinion counts more right now."

Neller, who made the remark on a nine-country tour of deployed Marine units, did not specify which country he thought presented the greatest threat of war.

In addresses to Marines in the following days, he appeared to walk back his initial comments somewhat, saying he did not know if war is imminent and hoped that it is not, but that Marines nonetheless should be prepared for any fight.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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