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Trump will have a military parade, but with no tanks, just planes

It looks as if President Trump will get the military parade he has coveted for months. But it will not be on the Fourth of July — and it will not include tanks.


The Bastille Day parade in Paris in July. President Trump attended at the invitation of President Emmanuel Macron of France. Photo: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Instead, plans are underway to hold a plane-filled display on Veterans Day in Washington, according to a Pentagon memo sent to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The memo, with Thursday’s date, says its purpose is to “provide initial guidance for the planning and execution” of a procession that would run from the White House to the Capitol and integrate with the city’s annual Veterans Day parade.

Medal of Honor recipients and veterans’ organizations are to be included in the march, which, according to the memo, will feature a heavy dose of history.

“This parade will focus on the contributions of our veterans throughout the history of the U.S. Military, starting from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 to today, with an emphasis on the price of freedom,” the memo said.


The Bastille Day parade included tanks, which won’t be present in a military parade in Washington planned for November. Photo: Markus Schreiber/Associated Press

In practice, that means “period uniforms,” re-enactments and even the use of an “old guard fife and drum,” the memo says.

The parade will also “highlight the evolution of women veterans from separate formations in World War II to today’s integrated formations,” the memo says. It will close with a “heavy air component,” which officials hope will include older planes.

Why no tanks?

“Consideration must be given to minimize damage to local infrastructure,” the memo notes, adding that there will be “wheeled vehicles only.”

The details come more than a year after Mr. Trump first signaled interest in the possibility of a military parade.

His inaugural committee reportedly explored, but rejected, the idea of highlighting military equipment in his inaugural parade. Then, in July, Mr. Trump watched a Bastille Day celebration in Paris and days later called it“one of the most beautiful parades I have ever seen,” adding that “we should do one one day down Pennsylvania Ave.”


A military parade through Red Square in Moscow last year. Photo: Yuri Kochetkov/European Pressphoto Agency

Two months later, while making remarks at the United Nations, Mr. Trump said he was actually looking into staging a Fourth of July parade, noting again that he had gotten the idea after watching the Bastille Day event.

Finally, last month, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis acknowledged that the Pentagon had been “putting together some options” for an event, which would be sent to the White House. A week later Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, estimated that the sort of public display that Mr. Trump had called for could cost between $10 million and $30 million.

Soon after that, Mr. Trump told Fox News that he would forgo the idea if it could not be done at a “reasonable cost,” which might help explain the decision to integrate the new parade with one that already exists.

Military parades in the United States have traditionally followed the end of wars. In 1991, President George Bush hosted a $12 million demonstration of military prowess after the end of the Persian Gulf war.

Other places in the world, though, are no stranger to military parades. In addition to France’s Bastille Day celebration in July, China held a huge military parade last summer, and in May, Russian leaders organized a large military paradethrough Red Square.

North Korea also frequently puts on displays of its military hardware, highlighting the nation’s missile capabilities by driving them down the streets of Pyongyang.


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