President Donald Trump on Monday met with U.S. special operations forces who conducted the raid which resulted in the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi last month, and posed for pictures with the military working dog wounded in the operation outside the Oval Office.
In brief remarks to the press, Trump joked about the toughness of Conan, a Belgian Malinois who received “serious” injuries when al-Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest inside a cave under his hideout in Syria.
“Conan is a tough cookie,” the president said. “I got to see how fast he can move … you’re lucky he is not in a bad mood today.”
Members of the special operations forces team did not make an appearance at the brief public event. Trump thanked them for their efforts in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East, but did not mention any other details of the unit.
“They did a fantastic job,” he said. “It was a flawless attack, and al-Baghdadi is gone.”
The president called Conan, who has become a social media sensation in the weeks since the raid, a “very special dog” and “the ultimate fighter.” He said the canine continues to serve with active-duty forces.
Conan received an unspecified medal and plaque from the White House for his part in the raid. Vice President Mike Pence spent much of the event petting the dog and called the animal “a hero.”
Trump said the Defense Department has done “a lot of work” in the Middle East in the weeks since the raid to help stabilize the region. He ignored shouted questions from the press corps about the firing of Navy Secretary Richard Spencer over the weekend.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.