Washington: US President Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon to plan a grand parade this year to show "appreciation" for the armed forces, the White House has said, an unusual move aimed at showcasing the might of the world's most powerful military.
A parade showcasing the military strength of a country is a common thing for many countries like China, France and India. But there is no such annual parade in the United States, which is militarily the most powerful country of the world.
"President Trump is incredibly supportive of America's great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe. He has asked the Department of Defence to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.
According to The Washington Post, Trump's interest in having a large-scale military parade now is likely to receive a mixed reception, especially among those who are concerned about nationalism, militarism or the president's past praise for authoritarian leaders. The tradition stretches back centuries, but has been typically been tied to the conclusion of wars, the daily said.
The last such parade was held in Washington DC in June 1991 at the end of the Gulf War. The parade was then held on the Constitution Avenue. The move has attracted criticism from some in the US, with retired Major General Paul Eaton saying it underscores Trump's "authoritarian tendencies" and any parade would be about honouring Trump, not the military.
Trump now wants this to be an annual feature. The Pentagon and the White House are exploring various options. Such an idea first came to Trump when he attended France's Bastille Day celebrations last year.
"It was one of the greatest parades I have ever seen. It was two hours on the button, and it was military might, and I think a tremendous thing for France and for the spirit of France," he told reporters then. "We are going to have to try to top it," he added.
The President reportedly asked for this during a meeting with his commanders and Defence Secretary on January 18. "The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France," said a military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the planning discussions are supposed to remain confidential.
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"This is being worked at the highest levels of the military," the official was quoted as saying by the daily. "We are aware of the request and are in the process of determining specific details. We will share more information throughout the planning process," the Defence Department spokesman Thomas Crosson said in a statement. (PTI)