President Donald Trump has asked the Pentagon to plan a grand parade of the U.S. armed forces in Washington this year to celebrate military strength, officials said Tuesday.
According to the Washington Post, Trump requested a display “like the one in France,” after he was French President Emmanuel Macron’s guest on Bastille Day last year, and much impressed by the annual show of military might.
He was also much impressed by a troop display put on in his honor during a November visit to China, where massive military parades have become more common under President Xi Jinping.
A Pentagon spokesman, Charlie Summers, said Pentagon officials are aware of the request and are “looking at options.”
Muscular military parades of the kind that are common in authoritarian countries like China and North Korea are not quintessentially American. The U.S. traditionally has not embraced showy displays of raw military power, such as North Korea’s parading of ballistic missiles as a claim of international prestige and influence.
U.S. military members commonly participate in parades on the Fourth of July and other holidays to mark appreciation and remembrance of military veterans, but these typically do not include gaudy displays of military hardware.
In her brief comment on Trump’s order to the Pentagon, Sanders did not elaborate on what sort of event he envisions.
Although Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has not commented publicly on the idea of a Washington military parade, the idea is not an obvious fit with his emphasis on focusing strictly, if not exclusively, on military activities that either improve the lethality of the armed forces or enhance their preparation for combat, or both.
The last major military parade in the US was to mark victory in the Gulf War in 1991, under President George H W Bush. According to the Washington Post, opinion was “sharply divided” at the time over the appropriateness of that display.