During the White House press conference Wednesday with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, President Trump was asked about comments reportedly made by the commandant of the Marine Corps predicting a "big-ass fight" during a trip last month to Norway.
"I hope I'm wrong, but there's a war coming," Gen. Robert Neller reportedly told 300 U.S. Marines stationed near Trondheim, Norway in December 2017. "You’re in a fight here, an informational fight, a political fight, by your presence." It is unclear how much of this was a pep talk and how much was literal preparations for war. Norway, a member of NATO, shares a small but strategic border with Russia.
Military.com first reported the story that Neller foreshadowed a "big-ass fight" coming to the world and predicted a future non-Middle East conflict would center on North Korea and/or Russia.
On Wednesday, a Norwegian journalist asked Trump about when the war would happen, appearing to be quite concerned about Norway being drawn into it.
"Maybe he knows something that I don’t know,” Trump said of the general. "I don’t expect that. I think we’ll have, because of strength, peace through strength. I think we’ll have a long period of time of peace."
"That's my opinion. That's not the generals' opinion. But I think my opinion counts more right now," Trump added.
SOLBERG: Can I call on Anis Malwais, from Norwegian Broadcasting?
QUESTION: Mr. President, Prime Minister, recently an American General, Robert Neller, told his Marines based in Norway, "There's a war coming, a big-ass fight." Mr. President, how imminent is that big war? And where will it take place?
TRUMP: When you say "the big war," you're saying what? Say it?
QUESTION: It was an American General, Robert Neller. He visited... the American Marines based in Norway. And he said there's a war coming, a "big-ass fight." When will that war come?
TRUMP: Well, maybe he knows something that I don't know, OK?
QUESTION: There's no -- there's no war coming?
TRUMP: I would say this. We have a very, 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 are building up our military to a point that we've never been before. We're also -- we were very much weakened over the last long period of time, but not with me.TRUMP: No, I don't expect that. I think we're going to have -- because of strength, peace through strength. I think we're going to have a long period of peace. I hope we do. We have certainly problems with North Korea, but a lot of good talks are going on right now, a lot of good energy. I see a lot of good energy. I like it very much what I am seeing.
I just spoke this morning with the -- as you present, with the president, President Moon of South Korean. He had some really great meetings. His representatives had a great, great meeting. And I had some very good feedback from that. So hopefully a lot of good things are going to work out. No, I think that we will have peace through strength.
Our military will be stronger than it ever was in a very short period of time. And that's my opinion. That's not the generals' opinion. But I think my opinion counts more right now. Thank you.
SOLBERG: Maybe I can just add that the reason why we are so happy that we have U.S. Marines training in Norway is that that's part of the deterrence strategy that makes sure that we don't have a war in the future.