December 3, 2015 / 3:29 AM / in 3 years

Trump criticizes administration's deployment of new force to Iraq

MANASSAS, Va. (Reuters) - U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump criticized on Wednesday the Obama administration’s decision to send a force of special operations troops to Iraq, saying the deployment was too small to be effective and should have been kept secret.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at his campaign rally in Manassas, Virginia, December 2, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

“Frankly, I think the number is so small – if you’re going to do it, do it,” he said at a campaign rally in Manassas, Virginia.

He also said the administration should not announce when it is sending troops overseas.

“Why does he have to stand up and say ‘we’re sending them’? Why can’t he send them and be quiet?” Trump said of President Barack Obama. “We don’t have any unpredictability anymore.”

The comments followed the announcement a day earlier that the administration plans to deploy a new force of about 200 special operations troops to Iraq to conduct raids against Islamic State there and in neighboring Syria.

“The enemy is not stupid ... and they are not contained,” Trump told a crowd of hundreds.

“They are looking for these men and women.”

Trump leads the group seeking the Republican nomination for the November 2016 presidential election. In a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll of the Republican field, the billionaire real estate mogul received 29 percent support.

Voters also said in the polls that Trump was the best candidate to deal with terrorism. He has criticized Obama’s policies toward the Islamic State, saying on Wednesday: “He doesn’t even know who to fight.”

Reporting by Megan Cassella; Editing by Shri Navaratnam, Robert Birsel

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