Could Tanks Still Make an Appearance in Trump's Military Parade?

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French President Emmanuel Macron, left, shakes hands with U.S President Donald Trump after the Bastille Day military parade on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris Friday, July 14, 2017. (Christophe Archambault, Pool via AP) -- The Associated Press

A new legislative proposal means tanks could still make an appearance in the big military parade President Donald Trump has ordered up for this coming Veterans Day in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 11, although the Pentagon has already come out against the idea.

In his markup to the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act released Monday, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said final decisions on the "operational equipment" in the parade should be left to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Thornberry's proposal would prohibit "the use of operational units or equipment in the parade if the Secretary of Defense believes such use will hamper readiness."

In a March memo, Navy Capt. Hallock Mohler, executive secretary for Mattis' office, said the parade would be limited to wheeled vehicles to "minimize damage to local infrastructure."

In February, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser and the district's Council made clear they didn't want tanks rumbling down Pennsylvania Ave, and expressed reservations about having a parade at all.

"We would always be concerned about the impact on the city, the impact on safety, the impact on pulling personnel, the impact on our roadways, and quite frankly, the attention it would attract," Bowser said.

However, Thornberry said the parade would be a fitting tribute to all who served and would also mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

Thornberry said he "agrees with President Trump that it is appropriate to honor and celebrate 100 years of patriotic sacrifice in a way that expresses appreciation and admiration for our men and women in uniform, including a parade in the nation's capital and a national celebration for that purpose."

Several House Democrats have opposed holding the parade, citing the costs and the time lost for service members in preparations for the event.

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-California, an Air Force reserve colonel, said in a tweet: "You know what would be more useful than asking the Pentagon to waste money on a big military parade? Basically anything."

The last major military parade in Washington, D.C., to mark the end of the Gulf war was estimated to have cost $12 million. The estimates for the parade in November range from $10-$30 million.

The House Republican proposal for the 2019 NDAA would authorize Mattis to spend whatever was "appropriate for a parade to be carried out in the District of Columbia," but suggested that he try to hold down the costs.

"The Secretary would be authorized to expend funds authorized to be appropriated under this act for the display of small arms and munitions appropriate for customary ceremonial honors and for the participation of military units that perform customary ceremonial duties," the proposal reads.

Trump was inspired to have a parade when he witnessed the pomp, ceremony and fly-bys in Paris at the annual July 13 French Bastille Day celebrations.

"We're going to have to try to top it, but we have a lot of planes going over and a lot of military might, and it was really a beautiful thing to see," Trump said at the time of his Paris experience.

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

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