Trump cancels military parade over high costs

by: - August 17, 2018
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(BBC) US President Donald Trump has cancelled a Veterans Day military parade in Washington DC planned for this year over high costs of staging the event.

He tweeted that local politicians had asked for a “ridiculously high” figure.

Reports say the event could have cost about $90 million (£71m) – more than three times the original estimate.

Mr Trump said “maybe we will do something next year in DC”, and he will instead attend parades in France and at Maryland’s Andrews Air Force Base.

Mr Trump was so impressed by France’s Bastille Day parade on a visit to Paris in 2017, he previously said he wanted the US to “top it”.

The date set for the Washington parade was 11 November – the centenary of the end of World War One.

Paris will hold its long-planned parade on the same day, while the event at the Maryland air force base is scheduled for a “different date”, the president said.

Quite predictably, he turned to his favourite communication tool – Twitter.

He wrote that “the local politicians who run Washington, D.C. (poorly) know a windfall when they see it. When asked to give us a price for holding a great celebratory military parade, they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I cancelled it.”

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser responded, emulating the president’s Twitter tone.

Meanwhile, a Pentagon spokesperson, Col Rob Manning, said in a statement that the Department of Defense and the White House “have now agreed to explore opportunities in 2019”.

The parade’s budget director had estimated costs of between $10m and $30m when the White House announced its request in February. But a US official gave a new estimate of $92m.

A memo when the plan was first mooted said no tanks would be used so as not to damage the roads of the nation’s capital.

The District of Columbia Council, Washington’s legislative body, was critical of the plan when it was announced, voicing displeasure on Twitter.

Members of the Democratic party were similarly sceptical, with congressman Jim McGovern declaring it “an absurd waste of money” on Twitter and saying Mr Trump “acts more like dictator than president”.

The Pentagon had said the military would march from the White House to the Capitol, and the parade would feature a “heavy air component at the end”.

The focus was set to be the work of US military veterans through the ages, starting with the American revolution.

US media pointed out that Donald Trump cancelled planned military exercises with South Korea in June after his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, on the grounds it would “save a fortune”.

The US had a military parade in 1991 following the end of its successful campaign to force Saddam Hussein’s troops out of Kuwait.