Pentagon says ‘no tanks’ to Trump’s request for Washington military parade
It looks like President Donald Trump is getting the military parade he wants in Washington – though he may not get any tanks for the effort.
A Pentagon planning memo released on Friday says the parade being planned for November 11, Veterans Day, will “include wheeled vehicles only, no tanks – consideration must be given to minimise damage to local infrastructure”. Big, heavy tanks could tear up District of Columbia streets.
But the event will “include a heavy air component at the end of the parade”, meaning lots of aeroplane flyovers. Older aircraft will be included as available.
The memo from the office of Defence Secretary Jim Mattis offers initial planning guidance to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, whose staff will plan the parade along a route from the White House to the Capitol, and integrate it with the city’s annual veterans’ parade.
Northern Command, which oversees US troops in North America, will execute the parade.
Trump decided he wanted a military parade in Washington after he attended France’s Bastille Day celebration in the centre of Paris last July.
As the invited guest of French President Emmanuel Macron, Trump watched enthusiastically from a reviewing stand as the French military showcased its tanks and fighter jets, including many US-made planes, along the famed Champs-Elysees.
Trump praised the French display months later when he and Macron met in New York, saying, “We’re going to have to try and top it.”
But outdoing the French may be difficult without any tanks.
Trump thinks the parade, which some lawmakers in both political parties have criticised, would boost the spirit of America.
“We have a great country and we should be celebrating our country,” he told Fox News Channel in a recent interview.
The Pentagon memo did not include a cost estimate for the parade. The White House budget director recently told Congress the cost to taxpayers could be between US$10 million and US$30 million.
The parade will focus on the contributions of American veterans throughout the history of the US military, starting with the Revolutionary War, and highlight the evolution of women veterans from the second world war to the present, according to the memo.
Trump should be surrounded in the reviewing area at the Capitol by veterans and Medal of Honour recipients, the memo said.