Trump 'demands US military chiefs stand next to him' at 4th of July parade

President says display of US military tanks will be part of event

Samuel Osborne
Tuesday 02 July 2019 07:17 EDT
Donald Trump promises tanks for Fourth of July parade

Donald Trump has reportedly requested the chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines stand next to him during a special Fourth of July event.

The US president has said a display of US military tanks will be part of the “Salute to America” event he is headlining in Washington on Thursday.

There is also expected to be a military demonstration by the US Navy Blue Angels and other aircraft.

Mr Trump has asked the chiefs for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines stand next to him as aircraft from each of their branches of the military fly overhead, the New York Times reports.

The event is likely to raise concerns over Mr Trump’s desire to parade US military forces through the streets of the capital in a similar manner to authoritarian regimes such as North Korea, Iran and China.

Mr Trump has wanted a military parade of tanks and other military hardware in Washington after he witnessed a similar parade on Bastille Day in Paris in 2017, but the plan was eventually scuttled partly because of the cost.

“We’re going to have some tanks stationed outside,” the US president said on Monday.

He appeared to acknowledge local officials' concerns over the damage the heavily armoured tanks could do to city streets, adding: “You’ve got to be pretty careful with the tanks because the roads have a tendency not to like to carry heavy tanks.

“So we have to put them in certain areas, but we have the brand new Sherman tanks and we have the brand new Abrams tanks.”

Sherman tanks were used by the US during the Second World War, but have been out of service for decades. The M1A1 Abrams tank is currently the main US battle tank.

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“We’re going to have a great Fourth of July in Washington, DC. It’ll be like no other,” Mr Trump said. “It’ll be special and I hope a lot of people come. And it’s going to be about this country and it’s a salute to America.”

“I’m going to say a few words and we’re going to have planes going overhead, the best fighter jets in the world and other planes too,” he said.

The Council of DC tweeted its opposition to the event on Monday: “We have said it before, and we’ll say it again: Tanks, but no tanks.”

Mr Trump plans to deliver a speech at the Lincoln Memorial during his “Salute to America,” which has been added to the regular schedule of Independence Day events in the capital. The annual fireworks display will go off closer to the Lincoln Memorial instead of the Washington Monument, as has been the long-standing tradition.

The event is open to the public and free of charge, but a ticket-only area in front of the memorial is being set aside for VIPs, including members of Trump’s family, friends and members of the military, the White House said.

The Republican National Committee has been offering its major donors tickets to Mr Trump’s speech, according to HuffPost.

Politicians and local officials have voiced concerns Mr Trump’s speech could alter the tone of what has traditionally been a nonpartisan celebration of America’s independence from Britain by delivering a political speech, after he formally announced his bid for re-election in June.

Additional reporting by agencies

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