Trump's Military Parade Is Likely Postponed Until 2019

Aug 17, 2018
Originally published on August 17, 2018 6:48 am
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NOEL KING, HOST:

President Trump is blaming the city government of Washington, D.C., for having to postpone a planned military parade until 2019. The parade was supposed to take place here in D.C. in November, but the administration announced a change of plans last night. On Twitter this morning, the president wrote that D.C. officials had asked for a price so ridiculously high that he was postponing it. D.C.'s mayor, Muriel Bowser, responded to the president. She called him the reality star in the White House and said her price was a realistic estimate. NPR's Pentagon correspondent, Tom Bowman, has been covering all the back and forth on this. Good morning, Tom.

TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: Hey, Noel.

KING: All right, so a military parade through the U.S. capital. Let's address that first. This is a pretty unusual idea. Where did it come from?

BOWMAN: Well, actually, it started just over a year ago. President Trump, on a visit to France, witnessed a Bastille Day parade in Paris. He was impressed with that and reportedly told French President Emmanuel Macron that the U.S. should put one together as well. So it kind of grew from there. The military came up with several options, but there were constraints, Noel. You know, it's hard to come up with a lot of active duty troops. They're kind of busy, you may have heard...

KING: Yeah.

BOWMAN: ...Deployed overseas or training to head over and so forth. Also, the question of, let's say, having Abrams tanks rolling down Pennsylvania Ave. That would cut up the asphalt. So the Pentagon came up with a smaller version using wheeled vehicles. And, you know, there's numbers all over the place. I was told recently, a few weeks ago, their estimated cost was roughly $14,000,000. But, of course, that has changed.

KING: And, Tom, let me just - something that I've been very curious about and I'm trying to get clear - is the idea here that the city of Washington, the city government of Washington, D.C., would be charging the federal government to - what? - use the roads? Who's actually - who's charging the money here?

BOWMAN: Well, it would be the D.C. government...

KING: OK.

BOWMAN: ...Because, you know, it would - not charging for the - using the roads necessarily, but they estimate it would cost roughly $22,000,000 to help the federal government put on this parade.

KING: OK.

BOWMAN: And most of that is for police. You need a huge number of police manning roadblocks, just patrolling, there for dignitaries and so forth. So that was the bulk of the cost - police presence.

KING: All right. And you talked about some of the things that the president wanted for this impressive show of force, which I guess kind of brings us to a last question here. You know, the president says he's going to kick it down the road to 2019. Presumably, if cost was a factor in the decision, it's not going to be any cheaper next year, is it? Right? Why not just cancel it?

BOWMAN: Well, we think it won't be any cheaper next year. Maybe they can negotiate with the D.C. government...

KING: OK.

BOWMAN: ...Or just come up with money or - but at this point, we don't know exactly what the plan is. The Pentagon said in its statement they're looking at other options for 2019. That's all we know at this point. The president did say that he's planning on going to a - some sort of a parade at Andrews Air Force Base. Now, there's no parade that I've heard of at Andrews. There is, however, an annual air show there in May.

KING: OK. NPR's Pentagon correspondent, Tom Bowman. Tom, thanks for the update.

BOWMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.