US President Donald J. Trump has reportedly asked the Pentagon to prepare a Red Square-style military parade that would be “a celebration where all Americans can show their appreciation (for the country’s armed forces,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said as she confirmed a report in Washington Post on Tuesday saying Trump wanted to break with 240 years of US military tradition by organising the sort of marshall pageantry that is typical of dictatorships and authoritarian regimes.
Trump has repeatedly expressed his admiration for annual military parades in Russia and China, dubbing a specific Beijing procession “magnificent”. He is also a fan of France’s July 14 Bastille Day parade, which he called “one of the greatest parades I’ve ever seen”.
White House chief of staff John Kelly is reportedly involved in the planning of the parade. Pentagon officials are pushing for the parade to coincide with Veterans Day, rather than Independence or Memorial Day, as it would appear to have fewer ties to Trump’s personal decision.
The Pentagon is aware of Trump’s request for a parade, but for the time being, it is only exploring the feasibility and timing, a Pentagon spokesman told Reuters. Officials also told the Washington Post that the overall cost of an annual military parade, which could reach millions of dollars, has yet to be properly discussed..
Trump reportedly wanted to include tanks and missile launchers in his Inauguration Day parade, but the idea was later scrapped because of its similarities to the type of Soviet-style parades that have been revived by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The move was instantly criticised by veterans’ group, with retired General Paul Eaton, senior adviser to VoteVets, a progressive political action committee for military veterans, said that in the past Trump has praised the tactics of autocrats such as Saddam Hussein and Putin. Eaton said: “Unfortunately, we do have a commander-in-chief right now as much as we have a wannabe banana republic strongman.”
Trump, who did not serve in the military and avoided being conscripted into service for the Vietnam War after receiving five draft deferments, has long spoken of his admiration for tough military figures, and frequently labels members of his cabinet as “my generals”.