Trump's military parade delayed as Mattis says whoever leaked $92m cost 'probably smoking something'

Armed forces event postponed as Pentagon denies reports of spectacle's potentially huge bill

Tom Barnes
Friday 17 August 2018 13:12
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James Mattis says whoever leaked $92m cost of military parade 'probably smoking something'

The US Defence Department has postponed Donald Trump’s Veterans Day military parade amid claims the spectacle could cost $92m (£72m).

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning said on Thursday the armed forces and the White House would now “explore opportunities” to reschedule the event for 2019.

The president previously said the parade, planned to honour US military veterans and mark the centenary of the end of the First World War in November, would be “great for the spirit of the country”.

The announcement of its cancellation came hours after reports emerged that US officials expected the parade to cost more than $90m, three times more than original estimates.

Officials speaking on condition of anonymity said the Pentagon would have been forced to spend $50m (£39m) on the transport of aircraft, equipment and personnel to Washington for the event.

Several other agencies would have covered remaining costs, mainly consisting of security provisions, the government sources said.

However, defence secretary James Mattis has rubbished the reports, suggesting whoever claimed the parade was set to cost upwards of $90m was “probably smoking something.”

“I'm not dignifying that number with a reply,” the Pentagon chief told reporters while travelling to the Colombian capital Bogota.

“I would discount that, and anybody who said it, I'll almost guarantee you one thing: They probably said, 'I need to stay anonymous.' No kidding, because you look like an idiot.

“And number two, whoever wrote it needs to get better sources. I'll just leave it at that.”

The parade’s cost has become a politically-charged issue, particularly in the wake of the US’s decision to cancel its annual “war games” with South Korea in August.

Mr Trump called off the military manoeuvres following his landmark summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore in June, claiming the drills were provocative and ending them would save the US “a tremendous amount of money”.

The Pentagon later said the Korea drills would have cost $14m (£11m).

Lieutenant colonel Jamie Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said earlier on Thursday that defence department planning for the parade “continues and final details are still being developed.”

He added that any cost estimates were “pre-decisional.”

The parade was expected to include troops from all five armed services – the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard – as well as units in period uniforms representing earlier times in the nation's history. It also was expected to involve a number of military aircraft flyovers.

A Pentagon planning memo released in March said the parade would feature a “heavy air component,” likely including older, vintage aircraft.

It also said there would be “wheeled vehicles only, no tanks,” amid fears heavy tracked vehicles could tear up streets in the District of Columbia.

Additional reporting by AP

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