President Donald Trump's Thanksgiving Day salute to the military this year included Space Force for the first time, the newest official service branch.
"You keep watch around the world to detect missile launches, space launches, and nuclear detonations while providing critical intelligence," Trump said from the White House in his traditional Thanksgiving Day round of calls by the commander in chief to service members worldwide.
It was the first time that Space Force, which was officially created Dec. 20, 2019, was included in calls to the military branches.
Trump also made calls to the Army's Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 36th Infantry Division, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait; Navy destroyer Winston S. Churchill in the Red Sea; Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force in Kuwait; Air Force 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron and Expeditionary Readiness Squadron, Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait; and Coast Guard Port Security Unit 308 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Marine Sgt. Romero Vasquez, of Los Angeles, said from Kuwait: "It's an honor to meet you, Mr. President. Just talking to you in person, it's a really great honor and it's a great place here in Kuwait. I love what I do. I love serving my country."
Cmdr. Tim Shanley, commander of the Arleigh Burke-class Churchill, said his ship and its 352 sailors have "sustained some solid operations out here, conducting escort operations, overwatch, counter-piracy, counter-illicit trafficking."
"We've been underway since we deployed earlier in the summer," Shanley said. "We've traveled over 30,000 miles so far through the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, Red Sea, all the way to the Arabian Gulf and back."
As he has in previous Thanksgiving Day calls, Trump used the occasion to note the increased spending on defense in his administration, with a budget now in the range of $740 billion.
"We've been building up our military," in comparison to previous administrations, Trump said. "We spent $2.5 trillion in the last three and a half years, and we've never had anything like it in terms of equipment and all of the elements that we put together.
"Think of that, $2.5 trillion," he said. "All new tanks and missiles and rockets and everything is tippy-top. Nobody thought we could ever get there. We've done it quickly. Most of the equipment is there. Much of it is there. Most of it's coming. The rest of it's coming in over the next, I would say, six months to 12 months."
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.