Plans advance for US military parade

Defense Secretary James Mattis says Donald Trump wants to honour the US military with a parade.
Defense Secretary James Mattis says Donald Trump wants to honour the US military with a parade.

The White House is pushing ahead with plans to throw a grand military parade through the streets of Washington, brushing aside criticism that such a display could be an unnecessary show of raw military power.

In a briefing to reporters, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the parade plan reflects Donald Trump's respect for the armed forces.

"We all know the president of the United States' affection for the military," Mattis said. He said the Pentagon has been "putting together some options" for the parade to send to the White House.

The Washington Post, which was first to report the plan on Tuesday, said Trump wants an elaborate parade this year with soldiers marching and tanks rolling, but no date has been selected.

Massive military parades of the kind that are common in authoritarian countries like China and North Korea are not quintessentially American.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told CNN that such a parade risks being "kind of cheesy and a sign of weakness" if it's all about showing off military hardware.

But White House legislative director Marc Short told MSNBC: "I'm not sure honouring the military is a waste of money."

Last September, at a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Trump announced his idea of staging a grand parade of the armed forces in Washington on July 4.

Trump reminisced about watching France's Bastille Day military parade when he visited Paris in July. He said the two-hour parade was a "tremendous thing for France and for the spirit of France," and said he wanted one on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington that would be grander than the one he saw in Paris.