Trump’s team ‘wanted tanks, missile launchers’ for inauguration

Washington, Jan 20 (IANS) Donald Trumps team of advisers pushed for tanks and missile launchers to feature at his inauguration parade, sources involved in his inaugural preparations said.

A report in the Huffington Post on Thursday cited the sources as saying that Trump had endeavoured to ensure that his first day as Commander-in-Chief is marked by an unusual display of heavy military equipment.

During the preparation for Friday’s transfer-of-power, a member of Trump’s transition team floated the idea of including tanks and missile launchers in the inaugural parade, a source involved in inaugural planning told the Huffington Post.

“They were legit thinking Red Square/North Korea-style parade,” the source said, referring to massive military parades in Moscow and Pyongyang, typically seen as an aggressive display of muscle-flexing.

The military, which traditionally works closely with the presidential inaugural committee, shot down the request, the source said.

Their reason was two-fold, according to the report. Some were concerned about the optics of having tanks and missile launchers rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue. But they also worried that the tanks, which often weigh over 100,000 pounds, would destroy the roads.

“I could absolutely see structural support being a reason (not to use tanks),” a Defense Department official said. “DC is built on a swamp to begin with.”

Defense Department spokeswoman Valerie Henderson declined to comment on the request for tanks and missile launchers, referring questions to the Trump transition team.

Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn told HuffPost that the presidential inaugural committee worked closely with the military “to render appropriate honours” for Trump’s swearing-in. But he directed questions about “specific aspects” of the military’s support to the Defense Department.

The Pentagon didn’t reject all of Trump’s ideas. At the request of the President-elect, there are five military flyovers — one for each branch of the armed services — planned for Friday’s inaugural parade, Pentagon spokesman Major Jamie Davis told HuffPost.

The Air Force plans to fly four fighter jets: An F-35, an F-16, an F-22 and an F-15E. The Navy will fly four F/A-18 combat jets. The Army will fly four UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. The Marines will fly four V-22 Ospreys. And the Coast Guard, which was still finalising plans, was looking at flying four MH-65 rescue helicopters, Davis said.

Stephen Kerrigan, who held top positions in outgoing President Barack Obama’s first and second presidential inaugural committees, said he was “shocked” to hear about the planned flyovers for Friday.

“It seems unnecessary and the optics don’t seem appropriate… It’s very Red Square,” he said.

Traditionally, the military plays a big role in inaugurations, but not by display of heavy weaponry. The armed forces usually contributes “musical units, colour guards, salute batteries and honour cordons,” said the report.

–IANS

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