Trump's Military Parade Might Not Be in DC: Pentagon

President Donald J. Trump speaks with Airmen from at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Nov. 8, 2017. (U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Alex Echols III)
Military.com | By Richard Sisk

The big parade to honor the military wanted by President Donald Trump might not come down Pennsylvania Ave. past the White House, the Pentagon said Thursday.

At a Pentagon press briefing, Dana White, the Defense Department's chief spokesperson, said that other options to Washington, D.C., would be under consideration for holding the parade that reportedly was inspired by Trump's admiration for the Bastille Day parade he attended in Paris last July.

"The president will decide," she said, once the Pentagon comes up with a plan. "We don't have a plan yet," she said, but the Army will take the lead in devising one.

"The president is looking for opportunities to honor our service members," White said. "The president is simply looking for options. The bottom line is we want to honor our service members."

At a White House briefing Wednesday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis endorsed the parade but declined to discuss the costs.

"I think we're all aware in this country of the president's affection and respect for the military. We've been putting together some options. We'll send them up to the White House for decision," Mattis said.

No date for the parade has been set, but one option being considered is Nov. 11, which would be Veterans Day and also coincide with commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

The plan for a parade has drawn criticism from Democrats, and an informal poll conducted by Military Times showed overwhelming opposition to the idea.

As of Thursday afternoon, more than 51,000 readers had responded and 89 percent said "No, It's a waste of money and troops are too busy."

The other 11 percent responded "Yes, it's a great opportunity to show off U.S. military might," Military Times said.

On Wednesday, several Democratic senators sent a letter to Mattis questioning the potential costs of the parade and how it might impact the military in the midst of wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan and also facing threats from North Korea.

"At a time of war, with American service members serving in harm's way, such a parade seems to be inappropriate and wasteful," said the letter signed by Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, Gary Peters, D-Michigan, and Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said he supported a parade but cautioned against having a "Soviet-style" display of military might.

"I don't mind having a parade honoring the service and sacrifice of our military members," Graham told CNN. "I'm not looking for a Soviet-style hardware display. That's not who we are, it's kind of cheesy and I think it shows weakness, quite frankly."

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