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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 20, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 03
Military vetoes Trump's idea for a Red Square-style inaugural parade

Trump wanted tanks and missile launchers
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Military vetoes Trump's idea for a Red Square-style inaugural parade

Trump wanted tanks and missile launchers

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The military vetoed Donald Trump's idea for a grand Red Square-style show of military might on Inauguration Day, according to sources quoted by the Huffington Post.

Trump himself floated the idea in a January 18 interview with the Washington Post.

The military, he suggested, 'may come marching down Pennsylvania Avenue. That military may be flying over New York City and Washington, DC, for parades. I mean, we're going to be showing our military.'

According to people the Huffington Post identified as 'several sources involved in his inaugural preparations,' Trump wanted his inauguration to feature a display of heavy military equipment - including tanks and missile launchers - more appropriate for Pyongyang than for DC.

'They were legit thinking Red Square/North Korea-style parade,' one source said.

The military, however, told Trump they could not comply with his plans.

Their reason was twofold. Some generals were concerned about the optics of having tanks and missile launchers rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue. But they also worried that the tanks, which often weigh over 100,000 pounds, would destroy the roads.

'I could absolutely see structural support being a reason [not to use tanks],' a Department of Defense official told the Huffington Post. 'DC is built on a swamp to begin with.'

Defense Department spokeswoman Valerie Henderson declined to comment on the request for tanks and missile launchers, referring reporters' questions to the Trump transition team.

Trump advisor Boris Epshteyn told the Huffington Post that the presidential inaugural committee worked closely with the military 'to render appropriate honors' for Trump's swearing-in. But he added that the Defense Department would be better able to comment on 'specific aspects' of the inaugural parade.

The Pentagon didn't reject all of Trump's ideas. At the specific request of the president-elect, there are five military flyovers - one for each branch of the armed services - planned for Friday's inaugural parade, Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Jamie Davis said.

The Air Force plans to fly four fighter jets: an F-35, an F-16, an F-22, and an F-15E. The Navy will fly four F/A-18 combat jets. The Army will fly four UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. The Marines will fly four V-22 Ospreys. And the Coast Guard, which is still finalizing plans, is looking at flying four MH-65 rescue helicopters, Davis said. The number and type of planes used could change, depending on Friday's weather, he added.

Stephen Kerrigan, who held top positions in Obama's first and second presidential inaugural committees, said he was 'shocked' to hear about the planned flyovers for Friday.

'It seems unnecessary and the optics don't seem appropriate.&It's very Red Square,' he said.

'If there are fighter jets flying over Washington, people are going to assume something bad is happening,' Kerrigan added.

Military flyovers are not typically part of inaugural parades. Outgoing President Barack Obama did not use any military aircraft at either of his inaugurations, the Defense Department official said.

There were no flyovers at President George W. Bush's 2005 inauguration, but he did have a flyover during his 2001 opening ceremony, which happened two days before the inauguration.

President Ronald Reagan considered including flyovers in his second inauguration in 1985, but one never materialized, the official said. Before that, the last president to include military flyovers as part of his inauguration was President Harry Truman in 1949.

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