President Trump tweets the cancellation of his desired military parade in Washington DC.
Scheduled to be held on Veterans Day, the parade would have included troops and equipment from all five branches of the armed services and would celebrate the history and accomplishments of the US military, from the Revolutionary War up to the present day.
The United States has largely refrained from hosting military parades since the end of World War II. One exception is the parade in Washington which celebrated the victory against Iraq at end of the Gulf War in 1991.
“We originally targeted November 10, 2018 for this event but have now agreed to explore opportunities in 2019,” Defence Department Spokesman Colonel Rob Manning said in a statement.
The parade aimed to honour U.S. military veterans and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. It was projected to cost more than $90 million, the U.S. official said, citing provisional planning figures that were nearly three times more than an earlier White House estimate.
The official said the cost estimate of about $92 million was not approved by Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.
In February, Trump asked the Pentagon to explore a parade in celebration of American troops, after the Republican president marvelled at the Bastille Day military parade he attended in Paris last year.
Earlier this year, the White House budget chief said the parade would cost U.S. taxpayers between $10 million and $30 million.
It was not immediately clear why the recent cost estimate was so much higher than the earlier one, and what exactly it included. A Pentagon memo from March said the Washington parade route would have a “heavy air component at the end of the parade.”
Until now, the parade had been in the works, and was provided for in the 2019 National Defence Authorization Act, a piece of legislation signed every year that sets out the military’s budget.
The planned parade had been roundly criticized by Trump’s opponents, who called it wasteful, unnecessary, and “authoritarian.”
The city's governing District of Columbia Council was critical of the plan when announced, voicing its displeasure on Twitter.
Members of the Democratic party were similarly sceptical, with congressman Jim McGovern declaring it "an absurd waste of money" on Twitter and saying Mr. Trump "acts more like dictator than president".
This is not the first time that members of the establishment have contradicted President Trump’s express commands; the recently passed $716 billion defence bill he signed into law on Monday limits the President’s executive authority which constrain him on foreign policy and military matters. Trump also objected to the legal basis for a measure in the law that requires the Pentagon to assign a high-level official to review and manage the military’s widely criticized process when American airstrikes result in civilian deaths.
Other provisions sought to box the administration into taking a harder line against Russia, after Trump spelled out his desire for warmer relations with Moscow and left open the possibility of recognizing Russian sovereignty over Crimea, the peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
While the US largely refrains from holding military parades, tanks have rolled down the streets of Washington DC before. In 1991, a massive parade was held to celebrate the US victory in the Gulf War, at a cost of $8 million.
Our assessment is that the proposal for a military parade itself stems from an inherent desire to showcase strength, without taking concrete steps. We feel that the money which was earmarked for the parade can now be better spent fully funding the Department of Veteran Affairs, giving US troops and their families the best possible care.