March 22, 2018

Trump tells Pentagon to plan military parade in Washington

US President Donald Trump has asked the Pentagon to organise a large military parade in the nation's capital.

The president made the request of top military chiefs in late January, after reportedly being impressed by a French Bastille Day parade last year.

Military displays in Washington DC are usually only used to mark victory at the end of a war.

Democrats compared the plan to displays of military might organised by autocratic nations.

The plan was first revealed by the Washington Post, before being confirmed by the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders.

"President Trump is incredibly supportive of America's great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe," she said.

"He has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation."

The Pentagon is now looking at the details of the event, though one White House official told the Washington Post plans were still at a "brainstorming" stage.

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US media linked the plan to Mr Trump's admiration for a military parade he attended in Paris in July last year.

The occasion, marking 100 years since America entered World War One, saw troops march down the Champs-Élysées, accompanied by dozens of military vehicles, flyovers of military aircraft, and traditional mounted cavalry.

"It was one of the greatest parades I've ever seen," Mr Trump later said. "We're going to have to try and top it."

Does everyone like the idea?

Democratic politicians have criticised the plan as expensive and said such ideas carry worrying symbolism.

"What an absurd waste of money!" tweeted Representative Jim McGovern. "Trump acts more like dictator than president. Americans deserve better."

Representative Jackie Speier, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, told CNN: "I was stunned by it, to be quite honest… we have a Napoleon in the making here."

"It's really a waste of money, and I think everyone should be offended by his need to always be showy… it's not our style, it's not the way we do business."

How unusual is this?

Such parades are rare in the United States and most Western countries, and are more commonly associated with nations such as North Korea.

Speaking to CNN, Lt Gen Mark Hertling said: "I don't know a whole lot of soldiers who like them."

"The military will do whatever the commander in chief asks them to do – but it's not a good idea for our military."

"It is not in the culture of the United States military – that is not who we are… there shouldn't be, in my view, a whole lot of chest-thumping and these over means of showing how tough you are."

The US has largely reserved such ceremonies for the end of major conflicts.

The last such parade through Washington DC was in June 1991, when President George Bush Snr celebrated the end of the Gulf War.

Original Article


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