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Trump Military Parade Delayed          08/17 06:17

   The Defense Department says the Veterans Day military parade ordered up by 
President Donald Trump won't happen in 2018.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Defense Department says the Veterans Day military 
parade ordered up by President Donald Trump won't happen in 2018.

   Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday that the military and 
the White House "have now agreed to explore opportunities in 2019."

   The announcement came several hours after The Associated Press reported that 
the parade would cost about $92 million, according to U.S. officials citing 
preliminary estimates more than three times the price first suggested by the 
White House.

   According to the officials, roughly $50 million would cover Pentagon costs 
for aircraft, equipment, personnel and other support for the November parade in 
Washington. The remainder would be borne by other agencies and largely involve 
security costs. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss early 
planning estimates that have not yet been finalized or released publicly.

   Officials said the parade plans had not yet been approved by Defense 
Secretary Jim Mattis.

   Mattis himself said late Thursday that he had seen no such estimate and 
questioned the media reports.

   The Pentagon chief told reporters traveling with him to Bogota, Colombia, 
that whoever leaked the number to the press was "probably smoking something 
that is legal in my state but not in most" --- a reference to his home state of 
Washington, where marijuana use is legal.

   He added: "I'm not dignifying that number ($92 million) with a reply. I 
would discount that, and anybody who said (that number), I'll almost guarantee 
you one thing: They probably said, 'I need to stay anonymous.' No kidding, 
because you look like an idiot. And No. 2, whoever wrote it needs to get better 
sources. I'll just leave it at that."

   The parade's cost has become a politically charged issue, particularly after 
the Pentagon canceled a major military exercise planned for August with South 
Korea, in the wake of Trump's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. 
Trump said the drills were provocative and that dumping them would save the 
U.S. "a tremendous amount of money." The Pentagon later said the Korea drills 
would have cost $14 million.

   Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said earlier Thursday that 
Defense Department planning for the parade "continues and final details are 
still being developed. Any cost estimates are pre-decisional."

   The parade was expected to include troops from all five armed services --- 
the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard --- as well as units in 
period uniforms representing earlier times in the nation's history. It also was 
expected to involve a number of military aircraft flyovers.

   A Pentagon planning memo released in March said the parade would feature a 
"heavy air component," likely including older, vintage aircraft. It also said 
there would be "wheeled vehicles only, no tanks --- consideration must be given 
to minimize damage to local infrastructure." Big, heavy tanks could tear up 
streets in the District of Columbia.

   The memo from Mattis' office provided initial planning guidance to the 
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His staff is planning the parade along a 
route from the White House to the Capitol and would integrate it with the 
city's annual veterans' parade. U.S. Northern Command, which oversees U.S. 
troops in North America, is responsible for the actual execution of the parade.

   Earlier this year, the White House budget director told Congress that the 
cost to taxpayers could be $10 million to $30 million. Those estimates were 
likely based on the cost of previous military parades, such as the one in the 
nation's capital in 1991 celebrating the end of the first Gulf War, and 
factored in some additional increase for inflation.

   One veterans group weighed in Thursday against the parade. "The American 
Legion appreciates that our President wants to show in a dramatic fashion our 
nation's support for our troops," National Commander Denise Rohan said.  
"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."

   Trump decided he wanted a military parade in Washington after he attended 
France's Bastille Day celebration in the center of Paris last year. As the 
invited guest of French President Emmanuel Macron, Trump watched 
enthusiastically from a reviewing stand as the French military showcased its 
tanks and fighter jets, including many U.S.-made planes, along the famed 
Champs-Elysees.

   Several months later Trump praised the French parade, saying, "We're going 
to have to try and top it."


(KA)

 
 
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