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Pentagon may delay Trump’s military parade, originally slated for November, to next year

Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf and President George H.W. Bush watch the National Victory Parade in Washington in June 1991.
Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf and President George H.W. Bush watch the National Victory Parade in Washington in June 1991. (Ron Edmonds/AP)

The Trump administration may delay a military parade slated for this fall, the Pentagon said Thursday, amid questions about the event’s increasing cost.

Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement that the parade, which President Trump ordered this year as a tribute to American military might, could take place next year.

“The Department of Defense and White House have been planning a parade to honor America’s military veterans and commemorate the centennial of World War I,” Manning said. “We originally targeted November 10, 2018 for this event but have now agreed to explore opportunities in 2019.”

Manning provided no reason for the apparent postponement, which came amid a spate of news reports that the event, which is expected to include aircraft, vehicles, period uniforms and symbols of U.S. power, could cost up to $92 million, far more than originally estimated.

Pundits and lawmakers weighed in on President Trump’s plans for a military parade in Washington. (Video: Victoria Walker/The Washington Post)

The decision to announce a possible postponement appeared to come together in the space of hours Thursday afternoon and evening. It was not clear who made the decision to explore delaying the event, which had been a priority for Trump.

Officials have been planning the event since earlier this year, when the president, apparently inspired by a similar display he observed last year in France, discussed the parade in a meeting with senior officials at the Pentagon.

The cost and the symbolism of the parade — reminiscent, critics say, of shows of force by authoritarian governments — have generated criticism from Democrats and, privately, consternation among military officials at a time when the Pentagon is trying to demonstrate its might against competitors including Russia and China.

Washington D.C. council member Mary Cheh, (D-Ward 3) says that President Trump is trying to mimic totalitarian regimes with his plans to hold a military parade. (Video: Whitney Shefte/The Washington Post)

Such large parades have been rare in recent U.S. history, though the George H.W. Bush administration staged a military parade in Washington in 1991 after the conclusion of the Persian Gulf War.

Earlier this year, a senior official said the parade would probably cost between $10 million and $30 million. Some share of the higher cost of close to $100 million is expected to be paid by other government agencies that would take part in organizing or securing the event.

Planning for the parade comes at a time when Trump has boasted of saving money by suspending joint military exercises with South Korea, part of his outreach to North Korea. The affected exercise would have cost about $14 million, far less than the parade’s current expected cost.

The American Legion, a veterans organization, said earlier Thursday that while it appreciated that Trump wanted to show support for U.S. troops, other priorities should win out.