Washington D.C., USA: U.S. President Donald Trump announced the cancellation of his postponed military parade in Washington, D.C. on Friday, blaming local politicians for the high cost of the celebration to commemorate the centennial of the end of World War I.
Trump suggested in a post on Twitter that the savings from canceling the parade could be used to purchase “more jet fighters.”
“The local politicians who run Washington, D.C. (poorly) know a windfall when they see it. When asked to give us a price for holding a great celebratory military parade, they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I cancelled it. Never let someone hold you up!” Trump tweeted.
The president said he would instead attend a parade already scheduled at Andrews Air Force Base on a different date and go to the Paris parade celebrating the end of WWI on November 11th.
“Maybe we will do something next year in D.C. when the cost comes WAY DOWN,” Trump added. “Now we can buy some more jet fighters!”
By comparison, one F-35A fighter jet costs about $89 million. The parade money likely would have come out of the operations and maintenance account, though, not the acquisition account, meaning cancelling the parade won’t necessarily buy a new fighter jet.
The tweets from Trump come after a report said the parade was estimated to cost $92 million, although Defense Secretary Jim Mattis dismissed that estimate.
Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser responded to Trump’s post with a tweet of her own, referring to the president as the “reality star in the White House.”
“Yup, I’m Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington DC, the local politician who finally got thru to the reality star in the White House with the realities ($21.6M) of parades/events/demonstrations in Trump America (sad),” Bowser tweeted.
The city estimated its costs alone, for which it would need to be reimbursed, would be $21.6 million. The bulk of that, $13.5 million, would be for policing. Other costs included traffic control, emergency medical and fire services, and public works.
The Defense Department previously indicated that the military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue has been postponed.
“The Department of Defense and White House have been planning a parade to honor America’s military veterans and commemorate the centennial of World War I,” said Defense Department Spokesman Col. Rob Manning.
He added, “We originally targeted November 10, 2018 for this event but have now agreed to explore opportunities in 2019.”
The cancellation lifts a burden off the Pentagon, which would have had to divert resources for a parade as it works to recover from what it has described as a readiness crisis.
It’s a prospect that put defense hawks at unease.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Va.) said Friday morning, after the Pentagon postponed the parade but just before Trump’s tweet. “We’re still at war right now. And I serve a district that has more military veterans than any district in the nation, and our families have been shouldering a burden for over 17 years. I just don’t think this is a good call. The war hasn’t ended yet.”
A nonprofit veterans organization announced on Friday that it is seeking to hold a 5K race for Veterans Day next year mocking President Trump.
VoteVets, an organization that focuses on nonpartisan education and advocacy on behalf veterans and their families, said on Twitter that it has submitted a Letter of Intent with Washington, D.C., to hold the race around the National Mall next year.
The announcement came the same day Trump canceled his plans for a military parade in the capital, citing its soaring cost estimates.
“So, unless he kicks out a veterans race, [Trump] will not get his ego parade there, on that day next year, either,” the organization added in the tweet, with the hashtag “#NoTrumpParade.”
FYI: VoteVets has submitted a Letter of Intent, with DC, to do a 5K around the National Mall, for Veterans Day 2019. So, unless he kicks out a veterans race, @realDonaldTrump will not get his ego parade there, on that day next year, either.#NoTrumpParade — VoteVets (@votevets) August 17, 2018.
The organization also said in an email asking for signatures to support their request, that it decided to make the race five kilometers long to symbolize “each of [Trump’s] deferments.”
In response to Trump canceling his $$$ military parade in DC, VoteVets announces they’re holding a 5K in DC to raise money for homeless vets. One K for each of Trump’s military deferments. — Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) August 17, 2018.
Trump received five military draft deferments during the Vietnam War, including a medical deferment after he was found to have bone spurs in his foot.
Their statement arrives on the heels of Trump’s Twitter announcement on Friday morning that he was cancelling plans for a military parade over the estimated $92 million cost.
Critics of the parade said Friday that cancelling it is the right thing to do.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, vowed to continue asking questions about the costs of a parade, pledging that it won’t proceed without “careful analysis.”
“Halting this costly idea is the right call,” Reed said in a statement. “I know President Trump really wants to lead a big military parade past his D.C. hotel, but a real leader wouldn’t put his own wishes above what’s best for our troops. Spending $100 million on this parade is beyond wasteful. Defense dollars would be better spent equipping our troops, caring for veterans and enhancing national security.”
EARLIER : Trump Military Parade Postponed
U.S. President Donald Trump will have to wait longer for his military parade, after the Pentagon said Thursday it had been pushed back until at least 2019.
Trump had asked the Department of Defense to organize a military parade for the US after he was reportedly dazzled by last year’s Bastille Day parade in Paris.
No date had been named for the planned US spectacle, however reports named Veteran’s Day, November 11, as an option.
“The Department of Defense and White House have been planning a parade to honor America’s military veterans and commemorate the centennial of World War I,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
The Pentagon said it had “originally targeted November 10, 2018 for this event but have now agreed to explore opportunities in 2019.”
The postponement came after Department of Defense officials said earlier Thursday the parade cost could blow out to 92 million dollars – 80 million dollars more than previously estimated.
The plan to hold a parade has come under fire from both Democrats and Republicans, some of whom argue it could have authoritarian or jingoistic overtones. Lawmakers have also been critical of the enormous cost.
The last US military parade in Washington was in 1991 after the Gulf War.
The American Legion said in a statement Thursday that the organization appreciates Trump’s desire to “show in a dramatic fashion our nation’s support for our troops.” But the veterans group believes that with troops still deployed overseas in the fight against terrorism, “until such time as we can celebrate victory in the War on Terrorism and bring our military home, we think the parade money would be better spent fully funding the Department of Veteran Affairs and giving our troops and their families the best care”
EARLIER : Trump Gets His Military Parade On Veterans Day Minus Tanks
The Pentagon in an “initial guidance” memo addressed to the chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Thursday, says the military parade which President Trump has ordered for Veterans Day, will not include tanks, to minimize damage to the city streets. The memo says the parade will begin at the White House and proceed to the U.S. Capitol, with a “heavy air component at the end.” It notes that Trump will be surrounded by military heroes in the reviewing area at the Capitol.
The Joint Staff will be in charge of planning the event in a way that integrates the parade into Washington’s planned Veterans Day festivities on Nov. 11, according to the report. Northern Command will be charged with executing the event, the memo said.
It comes after Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, gave the president’s instructions for the parade to the Pentagon last month.
Trump requested the grand military demonstration, which officials have estimated could cost between $10 million and $30 million, after witnessing the Bastille Day parade in France last summer. Many lawmakers from Trump’s own party have suggested the funds could be better spent on military supplies or veterans services.