There will be some heavily armored military vehicles at this year’s White House Independence Day event in Washington after all.
On Monday, President Trump confirmed reports that he had requested tanks at the celebration, in addition to a Blue Angels flyover and other static displays.
“I’m going to be here and I’m going to say a few words and we’re going to have planes going overhead ― the best fighter jets in the world, and other planes, too,” he told reporters. “And we’re going to have some tanks stationed outside."
Officials told The Washington Post, according to a story published earlier Monday, that the White House had requested Army vehicles for the celebration but that the service was scrambling to figure out what to send and how to get it to D.C.
“You’ve got to be pretty careful with the tanks, because the roads have a tendency not to like to carry heavy tanks," he said. “So we have to put them in certain areas, but we have the brand new Sherman tanks and we have the brand new Abram tanks."
The M4 Sherman, best known for its role in World War II, went out of service in 1957. The M1 Abrams came online in 1980.
“You know, we’re making a lot of new tanks right now,” Trump added. “We’re building a lot of new tanks in Lima, Ohio ― our great tank factory that people wanted to close down until I got elected and I stopped it from being closed down.”
The Associated Press reported late on Monday that one of its photographers saw at least two M1A1 Abrams tanks and two Bradley Fighting Vehicles on a flatcar in a railyard at the southern edge of Washington.
Back on track
Trump first floated the idea of tactical fighting vehicles on display in D.C. in summer 2017, after attending a Bastille Day parade in Paris, impressed by the procession of tanks down the Champs Elysees.
Concerns about heavy armored vehicle tracks tearing up Pennsylvania Avenue, among other issues, scuttled his original Veterans Day plan last August.
The estimated price tag came to more than $20 million.
Spokesmen for the Pentagon and the White House declined to comment on the types of vehicles on tap for Thursday’s event, as well as where they would be coming from and how much it would cost to transport them to and from D.C.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.