Trump Cancels Big Military Parade, Citing Cost

U.S troops march down the Champs Elysees avenue, with the Arc de Triomphe in background, during the Bastille Day parade in Paris on July 14, 2017.  (AP/Photo/Markus Schreiber)
U.S troops march down the Champs Elysees avenue, with the Arc de Triomphe in background, during the Bastille Day parade in Paris on July 14, 2017. (AP/Photo/Markus Schreiber)

President Donald Trump said Friday that Washington, D.C., officials want too much money to offset costs of a big military parade on Veterans Day -- so he canceled it and said he'll go to a parade in Paris instead.

In a series of early morning Tweets, Trump wrote, "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," he said, without stating how much the District was asking.

Trump said he would go to an already scheduled military parade at Joint Base Andrews in the Washington suburbs at a later date, although it was not immediately clear whether such an event is actually planned.

The president was more definite on what he will do on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, which also marks the centennial of the end of World War I, saying he will take up a standing invitation from French President Emmanuel Macron and "go to the Paris parade, celebrating the end of the War, on November 11th."

"Maybe we will do something next year in D.C. when the cost comes WAY DOWN," Trump said. But he saw an upside in the money saved by canceling the parade, saying, "Now we can buy some more jet fighters!"

Trump began pushing for a major parade as a tribute to the military after being impressed by the pomp and ceremony of Paris' July 14 Bastille Day parade, which he attended with first lady Melania Trump.

The Pentagon began planning for a bigger and better version of the Paris parade featuring fly-bys, units from all the services and troops dressed in period uniforms.

After Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser complained that having tanks in the parade would tear up the streets along the Pennsylvania Avenue route between the Capitol and the White House, the Pentagon said that only wheeled vehicles would participate.

In her own Tweet in response to Trump on Friday, Bowser claimed victory at the parade's cancellation, saying, "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)."

In Colombia, where he was winding up a South American tour, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis scoffed at media reports that the parade might have cost as much as $92 million.

Any journalist who gave the high-end figure was "probably smoking something," Mattis told reporters traveling with him. "I'm not dignifying that number with a reply."

The American Legion said it was probably best to shelve the idea of a military parade this year.

Denise H. Rohan, national commander of the two-million-member Legion, said in a statement, "The American Legion appreciates that our president wants to show in a dramatic fashion our nation's support for our troops.

"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 Veterans Affairs and giving our troops and their families the best care possible," she said.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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