Trump’s Military Parade Postponed As Cost Soars

Donald Trump's vanity-seeking military parade has been postponed amid reports that the estimated cost has increased dramatically.

Not long after returning from his visit to France for Bastille Day last summer, President Trump commented approvingly about the military parade that the French hold every year to mark the day, which he reviewed alongside French President Emmanuel Macron, and suggested that we should have something similar here in the United States, and suggested July 4th as the day for such a parade. At the time, most people dismissed the comment as just another random comment from a President apt to make such comments without ever actually following up on them, and the idea largely disappeared from the news rather quickly. Trump never really dropped the idea, though, and by early February of this year, it was being reported that Trump had asked his top military and Defense Department advisers to put together a proposal for such an event. Within days, though, some of President Trump’s own advisers put the potential cost of such an event at as much as $30,000,000, Despite that, by March it was being reported that the Pentagon was moving forward with plans for a parade, with Veterans Day being seen as the most likely date for the event. For logistical and other reasons, it was reported that the cost estimate for the parade had fallen to $12,000,000, although this was largely due to the fact that it would be coordinated with the Veterans Day Parade that already takes place in Washington every year. Now, though, the entire parade has apparently been postponed amid reports that the estimated cost of the event is skyrocketing:

WASHINGTON — A military parade ordered up by President Trump and planned for Veterans Day this year could be postponed until 2019, the Pentagon said Thursday.

The abrupt decision to look into changing the parade date came as Defense Department officials said that the event could end up costing more than $90 million and as the Pentagon emerges from years of required budget caps.

“We originally targeted Nov. 10, 2018, for this event, but have now agreed to explore opportunities in 2019,” said Col. Robert Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, in a statement.

Defense Department officials said that the White House made the decision on Thursday after seeing the new proposed price tag.

(…)

Soon after he was elected, Mr. Trump and his advisers floated the idea of a parade of military convoys through Washington. The committee planning his inaugural ceremony reportedly explored, but rejected, the idea of highlighting military equipment in the traditional parade, from the Capitol to the White House, after Mr. Trump was sworn in.

In July 2017 in Paris, Mr. Trump saw firsthand the full potential and grandeur of a military parade as he sat alongside President Emmanuel Macron of France and by all accounts enjoyed a Bastille Day celebration. Upon returning home, Mr. Trump told Defense Secretary Jim Mattis that he wanted a similar parade in the United States.

Mr. Mattis was not enamored of the idea, according to two other Defense Department officials. But the defense secretary, who carefully picks his battles with Mr. Trump, has since gone ahead with plans in tandem with a long-running Veterans Day parade in Washington.

This announcement came just hours after it CNBC had reported that the estimated cost of the event had soared far beyond even the initial estimates:

President Donald Trump’s military parade — postponed after this article was originally published — is shaping up to cost $80 million more than initially estimated.

The Department of Defense and its interagency partners have updated their prospective cost estimates for the parade, according to a U.S. defense official with firsthand knowledge of the assessment. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The parade, originally slated for Nov. 10 but now potentially set for 2019, is estimated to cost $92 million, the official said. The figure consists of $50 million from the Pentagon and $42 million from interagency partners such as the Department of Homeland Security. An initial estimate last month pegged the prospective cost for the parade at $12 million.

A Pentagon spokesman said in an email to CNBC that the Defense Department expects to make an announcement soon, but he would not comment further. The White House referred questions to the Defense Department.

The $92 million cost estimate includes security, transportation of parade assets, aircraft, as well as temporary duty for troops. The official also noted that while the size and scope of the military parade can still shift, the plans currently include approximately eight tanks, as well as other armored vehicles, including Bradleys, Strykers and M113s.

The official also said that experts put to rest concerns about whether the Abrams tank, which weighs just shy of 70 tons, would ruin infrastructure in Washington. Their analysis found that, because of the vehicle’s distributed weight and track pads, the streets of the nation’s capital would not be compromised.

The parade is also expected to include helicopter, fighter jet, transport aircraft as well as historical military plane flyovers. Troops in period uniforms representing the past, present and future forces will march in the parade, as well.

The postponement also came amid criticism from one of the nation’s largest veterans groups, which urged that the cost of the parade be used to actually help veterans:

Opponents to President Donald Trump’s plans for a costly military parade in Washington now include the American Legion, the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization.

“The American Legion appreciates that our President wants to show in a dramatic fashion our nation’s support for our troops,”American Legion National Commander Denise Rohan said in a statement Thursday night. “However, 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 possible.”

Her statement was issued after reports that the cost for the parade have risen dramatically. In February, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney estimated the cost to be from $10 million and $30 million. That number was reported to be perhaps $92 million on Thursday.

A Pentagon spokesman said Thursday that the parade originally was being planned for Nov. 10, to honor veterans and to commemorate the centennial of World War I. But now, it may be delayed until 2019.

The president developed parade envy after watching a military parade in Paris, when he was a guest of French President Emmanuel Macron for Bastille Day festivities in 2017.

Trump brought up the idea of a military parade in Washington during a meeting with Macron a few months later.

“We’re going to have to try and top it,” he said. “It was really a beautiful thing to see.”

Rep. Brad Schneider of Illinois and Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland introduced measures in February seeking to thwart Trump’s parade plans.

“We have the best armed forces in the world. We don’t need to flex our muscle to showcase our military hardware,” Cardin tweeted at the time. “Our brave military men & women flex their might around the world every day on behalf of our nation.”

On Twitter this morning, the President is claiming credit for canceling the parade:

President Donald Trump said Friday that he canceled a US military parade planned for Veterans Day weekend, blaming Washington city officials for inflating costs amid reports that indicated the event’s price tag had soared over initial estimates.

“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,” Trump tweeted Friday morning.

The President said he will instead “attend the big parade already scheduled at Andrews Air Force Base on a different date, (and) go to the Paris parade, celebrating the end of the War, on November 11th.”

He added, “Maybe we will do something next year in D.C. when the cost comes WAY DOWN. Now we can buy some more jet fighters!”

CNN has reached out to the Washington, DC, mayor’s office for response.

Here are the President’s tweets on the matter:

As I have noted before, a military parade in Washington, D.C. would not be unprecedented. Perhaps the most famous of these events occurred at the end of the Civil War, when Union forces consisting of units of the Army of the Potomac, the Army of the Tennessee, and the Army of Georgia, along with President Andrew Johnson and commanders such as Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman gathered to mark the end of the war just over a month after President Lincoln’s assassination.  Similar events took place both in Washington and other major American cities after both World War One and World War Two. The Inaugural Parades for both President Eisenhower and President Kennedy also featured military elements although they were not, strictly speaking, a military parade.

The most recent such event, though, occurred nearly twenty-seven year ago after the end of the Persian Gulf War when General Norman Schwarzkopf led American troops and a display of some military equipment down Constitution Avenue on in Washington, D.C. as part of a celebration of the troops in that war that included events on the National Mall that day that included a display Patriot missile batteries that had become famous for their role as part of a rudimentary missile defense during the war and a fireworks display that night. I attended that parade as did a crowd that likely amounted to tens of thousands of people. The parade consisted mostly of troops marching in formation, military bands, and some smaller vehicles such as the Humvee, which had become famous during much of the media coverage both during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Additionally, there were flyovers by some of the types of aircraft that had taken part in the war, including a Harrier Jump Jet that landed on the National Mall, an event that I didn’t personally witness.  There were even Abrams Tanks, which proved to be a problem when it turned out that the massive vehicles and their treads had left indentations in the streets that cost a not insignificant amount of money to repair in the months afterward. There was a similar parade, of the ticker tape variety down New York City’s “Canyon of Heroes” around the same time. It was, a fun event, but it was also the last time that we’ve seen any such parade in the Washington, D.C. area or any other American city. Instead, Americans have traditionally opted for parades featuring floats, marching bands, and local groups such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.  Finally, as noted above, there was some discussion about having a parade for Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans, but those plans were pushed aside when it was pointed out that such an event might not be appropriate while American men and women were still fighting and dying in both countries.

It’s also not surprising that Trump has become enamored with the idea of a massive display of military might with him at the center.

From his comments and the way he acts, it has become quite clear over the past year and a half that the President is utterly fascinated by displays of military might, and that he enjoys that kind of adulation given to the kind of authoritarian rulers he gravitates toward. We can see evidence of this both in the way that he revels in the adulation of the crowds that attend the campaign-style rallies that he continues to hold on a regular basis and in the affinity he shows toward the leaders of nations such as the leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and The Philippines and, of course, Russian President Vladimir Putin. The prospect of being able to put himself at the center of a similar nationalistic, militaristic display is no doubt something that appeals to those instincts, and the fact that his Administration will pass it off as a celebration of “the troops” will provide him with the kind of cover he needs to justify the absurdity of a spectacle like this and make it appears that those who are either opposed to or skeptical of it are against the troops and, of course, “un-American. He may even dust off the claim that such critics are “treasonous,” just as it is in his mind treasonous to fail to stand and applaud for the President even when you disagree with his policies. While this rhetoric may not play well beyond Trump’s base, it will resonate with many Americans in some respect, especially if it is sold as a tribute to the truth, and that will achieve Trump’s purposes as much as anything else.

Even with the increased cost estimate, the parade will no doubt continue to go forward. As Greg Sargent noted in a column posted yesterday, while several Republicans criticized the idea of a massive show of military might on the streets of the nation’s capital when the idea was first proposed, they ultimately authorized spending for such a parade in the latest Defense Department spending authorization bill that even most Democrats ended up supporting. Additionally, as Allahpundit notes, there isn’t any incentive to try to stop this idea from going forward regardless of how ridiculous it actually is. Any Republican who opposes it will be attacked for going against the President. Any Democrat who opposes it will be attacked as being “against the troops.” Not even the so-called fiscal conservatives in the Republican Party, who remarkably seem to have disappeared as of the day Barack Obama left office, will make an effort to stop this parade or restrict the amount of money that can be spent on it.  Surely, there are better endeavors we can spend this money on, though. As the American Legion notes, $90 million would be better spent on care for the veterans of the wars that are still being fought, and those in the past. Additionally, this projected cost would pay for six years worth of the military exercises with South Korea that President Trump described as being “tremendously expensive” when he canceled them in the wake of his June summit meeting with North Korean leader. Apparently, price is no object when it comes to stoking this President’s ego, though.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Military Affairs, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Poor little baby-authoritarian can’t have his parade.
    Sad!!!
    All the world’s strong men must be laughing at little-handed Dennison.
    Wanna-be autocrat.

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    MurielBowser
    @MurielBowser
    Follow Follow @MurielBowser
    More MurielBowser Retweeted Donald J. Trump
    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).

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  3. Kit says:

    If the parade ever does take place, just remember that it comes at the expense of fewer jet fighters.

  4. Jen says:

    So, when’s he going to go visit the troops in one of the currently active war zones? That would show support. His predecessors have done so. If he’s so enamored with the hardware, go see it in action.

    I’m not being entirely facetious about this. I DO find it odd that he hasn’t visited active duty troops abroad yet.

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  5. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “However, 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 possible.”

    That the parade money would be better spent as suggested will be true even after we celebrate victory in the War on Terrorism (not going to happen, BTW) and bring our military home (I don’t see this happening, either).

  6. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kit: You say that as if it were a bad thing. But more importantly, you can’t even put a downpayment on a jet fighter for what the parade would cost. I only wish what you said was true, I might even support the parade then.

  7. CSK says:

    @Jen:

    I suspect that Trump would want to turn any visit to the troops abroad into a campaign rally. I also suspect that he’s been informed, countless times, that that isn’t going to happen.

    Trump, being the gutless wonder he is, has no interest in appearing before a crowd that isn’t going to worship him unconditionally

  8. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Why can’t he get Mexico to pay for it?

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  9. CSK says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Instant threadwinner.

  10. KM says:

    @Jen:

    So, when’s he going to go visit the troops in one of the currently active war zones?

    Now that’s funny right there! Donald go somewhere there was a greater then zero chance of getting hurt? Please, he eats McD’s because he’s worried someone might poison him. He’s never going somewhere where his precious self might be even slightly endangered and certainly not for those wind-up toys and their big bangs he’s not allowed to use to smite his enemies. Troops are props, not people to him.

  11. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Kit:

    If the parade ever does take place, just remember that it comes at the expense of fewer jet fighters.

    You WISH that’s how it worked.

    Conservatives spend money on their pet projects, make sure to fund the folks that pay for their elections, then complain of the deficits and how there is no money for Social Security or Medicare.

    I’ll put my $50.00 up here… I predict: he will have his $100M+ parade.

  12. James Pearce says:

    On Twitter this morning, the President is claiming credit for canceling the parade

    Must be true then…

    (I’m actually glad the parade is off the table. Trump was setting a trap and the animals were circling it.)

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  13. An Interested Party says:

    I DO find it odd that he hasn’t visited active duty troops abroad yet.

    Perhaps bone spurs are preventing him from traveling…certainly that ailment prevented him from traveling to such places in the past…

  14. Franklin says:

    Who knew that a mile of border wall would cost roughly the same as a mile-long parade?

  15. al Ameda says:

    Not a problem, that clears his calendar to attend the military parade in the Kremlin

  16. Gustopher says:

    If he wanted to honor the troops, rather than the military hardware, he could have had a fairly inexpensive, but moving parade.

    People don’t tear up the streets as they march.

    I would want to honor the sacrifices our armed forces have made to defend our freedom, going back through history — period accurate uniforms and flags for all of our wars. Two parades, one through Washington DC, with a substantial number of troops for each war; and then a smaller second one in Arlington leading to a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

    If there are small pieces of military equipment that won’t damage streets, they can be added to the DC parade. A classic WWII Jeep, for instance, or a revolutionary war cannon on a float. But the focus should be on the people.

  17. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Franklin:

    Who knew that a mile of border wall would cost roughly the same as a mile-long parade?

    From the “hey you got chocolate in my peanut butter” school of thought… why not just have the military march at the border?

  18. Kathy says:

    There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with a military parade. Aside from authoritarian and totalitarian countries, they are held in democratic ones; though off the top of my head I can think only of France, Belgium, and Mexico.

    The Roman Senate (you knew I was going there), awarded an elaborate celebration called a Triumph to generals for extraordinary success in conquest or battle. These were multi-day affairs with gladiatorial games, chariot races, abundant feasts for the whole city, and a military parade. The latter included mostly the legions commanded by the general being honored, but also displays of captives (especially high-value ones like nobles), floats depicting scenes of battle, and the loot obtained in conquest. The victorious general entered the city on a white horse, and led the procession to kick off the festivities.

    I mention this because in the Imperial period, no emperor was refused a Triumph. this includes the very infamous Caligula, who once had the Senate award him one for a victory over the god Neptune and the ocean. He actually had legions on the beaches of Gaul (modern France) stab the water and collect seashells. The latter were displayed as booty.

    That’s what I think of whenever the Cheeto brings up his vanity parade.

    Oh, BTW, in some Triumphs, the general being honored painted his face red for some reason. That, at least, Trump has covered 🙂

  19. CSK says:

    @James Pearce:

    I really shouldn’t, but I’ll bite: For whom was Trump setting the trap?

  20. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Kathy:

    There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with a military parade. Aside from authoritarian and totalitarian countries, they are held in democratic ones; though off the top of my head I can think only of France, Belgium, and Mexico.

    Brazil helds military parades. They are the most boring thing in the whole world:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3ql90K5QXo

  21. de stijl says:

    Imagine that Obama had proposed such a thing. Imagine the reaction it would have provoked.

  22. Franklin says:

    @CSK: I assume that Mr. Pearce is suggesting that liberals speaking out against the march will be painted as hating the fine service members performing in it?

    @Liberal Capitalist: LOL!

  23. Kathy says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    Looks very much like Mexico’s parade, which, BTW, I haven’t bothered to watch on TV in decades.

  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Franklin: According to James, all of trump’s tweets are an irresistible trap which liberals are doomed to fall into and the only way we will ever win back the White House and Congress is if we ignore trump’s every utterance.

  25. James Pearce says:

    @CSK: Franklin summed it up pretty well. I don’t think Trump is some chessmaster level genius or liberals are some kind of low level organism only capable of reacting to stimulus, but you don’t need to be Nostradamus to see how this was going to go.

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    all of trump’s tweets are an irresistible trap which liberals are doomed to fall into

    No, I’ve been consistent on this. Trump’s tweets are garbage. They’re lies. They’re spin. They’re ad copy.

    If they’re a trap, too, they’re one you don’t have to fall into.

  26. SenyorDave says:

    @James Pearce: 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! I will instead..

    That’s Trump tweet on the cancellation. Will that play to his base? Of course, but IMO virtually no one else buys any part of that tweet I’m trying to understand your position on this. Trump plans a military parade, cancels it when the price tag comes in at several times the initial estimate, he goes on twitter to trash DC’s leadership, and imply bad actions their part. No evidence, just these are bad actors holding us for ransome. The DC mayor called him out in her tweet. The media covered it as a story. What’s the issue here? How did anyone get played?

    Trump’s tweets will be major part of the history of his presidency. This is not debatable.

  27. Michael Reynolds says:

    @SenyorDave:

    Trump’s tweets will be major part of the history of his presidency. This is not debatable.

    You don’t understand. @Pearce’s buddies down at the lodge, and his rustic relatives, all love Trump and Pearce has to go along and get along. In order to stomach that he, like many Trumpies, has to pretend that Trump doesn’t say what Trump says. Pearce has his hands over his ears and is yelling la la la la la all day long.

    Once you realize that @Pearce is playing to his own private amen corner he makes more sense.

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  28. CSK says:

    @James Pearce:

    We know Trump’s Tweets are crap. So what? If nothing else–and that’s hardly the case–they’re public documentation of his total incompetence.

  29. James Pearce says:

    How did anyone get played?

    Trump, who only wanted to smash the resistance on the head with this parade, claims to cancel the parade himself, citing the very budgetary concerns opponents (arguing in bad faith, by the way) cited, pointing fingers the whole time. He took your shit, made it his own, and remains undeterred in smashing on you.

    How did you NOT get played?

    @Pearce’s buddies down at the lodge, and his rustic relatives, all love Trump and Pearce has to go along and get along.

    Yeah, that’s me. The go along to get along guy…

    they’re public documentation of his total incompetence.

    CNN had a thing this morning saying Trump has said something like 4,654 confirmed lies in the past year or something like that. To visualize it, they had all these gumball machines.

    Trump’s awfulness has already been documented. What is the magic number where this “documentation” is going to start having an effect? If you’re trying to build a catalog of shame, forget it. You can’t shame this dude. If you’re documenting all his misdeeds so you can give the list to Daddy and Daddy can take care of it, forget it. There is no Daddy.

    What is the purpose of “documenting” what is already known?

  30. Matt says:

    @James Pearce:

    Trump, who only wanted to smash the resistance on the head with this parade, claims to cancel the parade himself, citing the very budgetary concerns opponents (arguing in bad faith, by the way) cited, pointing fingers the whole time. He took your shit, made it his own, and remains undeterred in smashing on you.

    How did you NOT get played?

    Holy shit that is hilarious. So Trump keeps trying to have a parade for his ego and it keeps getting shot down. Generally that’s considered a loss but since it’s Trump every day is heads I win tails you lose when Pierce is involved. In Pearce’s world when the leading proponent of an event cancels it and admits that the critics were right that means TRUMP WON!!!! Meanwhile in reality the perception is Trump caved on the parade hard while proving the critics were right.

    Guess it’s all a matter of perception…..

    As I stated above Pearce’s perception is heads trump wins tails trump wins and even if you don’t toss the coin trump wins.

    So I guess Pearce’s point is…….

  31. James Pearce says:

    @Matt:

    In Pearce’s world when the leading proponent of an event cancels it and admits that the critics were right that means TRUMP WON!!!!

    He didn’t admit the critics were right. He blamed them.

    And it was never about the money.

  32. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Kathy: No one watches these parades, precisely because they are boring. Even the French Parade is boring, specially when there are not jets flying. Specially without expensive military hardware these parades are inevitably boring.

  33. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @James Pearce:

    Trump, who only wanted to smash the resistance on the head with this parade, claims to cancel the parade himself, citing the very budgetary concerns opponents (arguing in bad faith, by the way) cited, pointing fingers the whole time. He took your shit, made it his own, and remains undeterred in smashing on you.

    Nope. He went to the Bastille Day parade, liked what he saw and wanted to have the same thing. The problem is that these parades are inevitably boring, specially if you don’t have expensive military hardware being used(In Brazil they resort to a human pyramid in a motorcycle to try to beat boredom, without much success) .

    Besides that, American Troops are sprawled all over the globe, unlike in other countries that have these parades. Moving troops to Washington DC would be incredibly expensive. It was a dumb idea from the beginning.

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: “Do not ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.”

  35. wr says:

    @James Pearce: If Trump were removed from office and sentenced to three hundred years in prison for crimes against the nation, Pearce would write that it was good for Trump because it would make him sympathetic.