Washington D.C., USA: In an unclassified memo to the Department of Defense dated Tuesday, National security adviser, H.R. McMaster, reportedly directed the Pentagon to plan Trump military parade to travel from the White House to the Capitol on Nov. 11, Veterans Day.
In the memo McMaster conveys Trump’s desire for Defense Secretary James Mattis to brief the president on “concepts of operation” for the parade, according to media reports.
Many lawmakers have urged Trump to instead direct funds to supporting mental health services for veterans, rather than a parade.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), from Trump’s own party, said that a military parade could send the wrong message.
“I don’t mind having a parade honoring the service and sacrifice of our military members,” Graham said. “I’m not looking for a Soviet-style hardware display. That’s not who we are, it’s kind of cheesy and I think it shows weakness, quite frankly.”
Lawmakers, particularly Democrats, have also expressed opposition to the optics of the parade, with many raising concerns that a military display could make the United States appear boastful and insecure.
A number of logistical hurdles have also emerged during the early planning process by the military for such an event. Pentagon officials have reportedly been concerned about cost, the transportation of troops and materiel and if it is feasible to have tanks on D.C. streets without causing considerable damage.
White House budget director told lawmakers last week that the event could cost between $10 million and $30 million.
The president repeatedly called for a grand military parade, particularly since visiting Paris for last year’s Bastille Day celebrations, which included a military parade down the Champs-Élysées – until he made it an order, which the military has to comply with.
EARLIER: Trump Will Get His Military Parade – Defence Secretary Jim Mattis – A military style parade – hallmark of the world’s dictators, Hitler, Stalin and Kim Jong-un to name a few – is in the works for US President Donald Trump, based on his orders, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis confirmed Wednesday.
“We’re all aware in this country of the president’s affection and respect for the military. We’ve been putting together some options. We’ll send them up to the White House for a decision,” Mattis told reporters at a White House briefing.
The president’s request, which was confirmed by the White House on Tuesday, is an unconventional move that would showcase American muscle and underscore his role as commander-in-chief.
Trump – who toyed with the idea of a parade in Washington since before being sworn in – made the request to top officers.
The Washington Post, which was first to report the plan, said on Tuesday that Trump wants an elaborate parade to be held this year with soldiers marching and tanks rolling, but that no date has been selected.
“President Trump is incredibly supportive of America’s great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe. He has asked the Department of Defence to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation.”, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Tuesday.
The Pentagon confirmed it was “in the process of determining specific details.”
Trump’s new request immediately fuelled comparisons to similar events in more autocratic countries.
“What an absurd waste of money! Trump acts more like dictator than president. Americans deserve better,” said Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern.
Oh my god… he wants to be Kim Jong Un… — Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) tweeted.
The Washington Post quoted an unidentified military official as saying, “the marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France.” It was thus interpreted as a presidential order, the report said, adding that the cost of shipping tanks and other military hardware to Washington could run in the millions of dollars.
When Trump visited Paris in July for Bastille Day, he made no secret of his awe for the pomp and ceremony of the occasion.
Months earlier, aides confided that Trump had considered a military parade to mark his inauguration, but the idea was eventually scrapped.
What an absurd waste of money! Trump acts more like dictator than president. Americans deserve better. — Jim McGovern (@RepMcGovern).
The former U.S. Navy SEAL who says he fired the shots that killed Osama bin Laden ripped President Trump’s proposal for a military parade in the nation’s capital.
“A military parade is third world bullsheath. We prepare. We deter. We fight. Stop this conversation.” Robert J. O’Neill tweeted.
Democrats have introduced legislation to bar federal funds from being used for a proposed Trump military parade.