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At the urging of President Donald Trump, the Pentagon is moving forward on planning for "a grand military parade later this year showcasing the might of America's armed forces," the Washington Post reported Tuesday.
The paper said the cost of the parade "could run in the millions" given the cost to ship tanks and other hardware to Washington.
In September, Trump met with French President Emmanuel Macron and remarked how he enjoyed watching France's Bastille Day military parade in Paris.
"It was a tremendous day, and to a large extent because of what I witnessed, we may do something like that on July 4th in Washington down Pennsylvania Avenue," Trump said in September. "We're going to have to try to top it, but we have a lot of planes going over and a lot of military might, and it was really a beautiful thing to see, and representatives from different wars and different uniforms."
According to the Post, Trump also made his views on holding the U.S. military parade known to top defense officials during a Jan. 18 defense briefing in the "tank" — a Pentagon secure room. The paper said that discussion ultimately "marked a tipping point," citing two unnamed officials briefed on the planning.
"The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France," the paper said, quoting an unnamed military official. "This is being worked at the highest levels of the military."
The last major military parade held in Washington was in 1991 to mark victory in Operation Desert Storm, the first Persian Gulf War. It reportedly cost about $8 million and involved thousands of troops who fought in the war, nearly a dozen bands, a fleet of missiles, tanks and the flyover of more than 100 aircraft.
The 1991 parade was paid for with about $3 million in U.S. government funds and the remainder from private donations.
"Given budget realities, the opportunity cost of a parade is too high to justify," said Edward King, president and founder of Defense Priorities, a conservative think tank. "Math still applies to superpowers, so our $20 trillion of debt poses a serious threat to our national security."
CNBC reached out to the Pentagon for comment but it referred calls to the Army, which declined comment. The White House didn't respond to CNBC's request for comment.
However, the Post story quoted an official in the White House as saying, "The president wants to do something that highlights the service and sacrifice of the military and have a unifying moment for the country."
Meanwhile, North Korea is scheduled to have a massive military parade on Thursday — a day ahead of the opening of the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Defense analysts said the North Korean parade showing ballistic missiles and other hardware can provide useful information to U.S. intelligence.
Russia also has an annual Victory Day military parade in Moscow in May to mark the defeat of Nazi Germany. Also, Russia last July held a Navy Day military parade with thousands of sailors, warships, submarines and aircraft in St. Petersberg.
China also has regular military parades in Beijing showing its increasing military might. One held in July showed off thousands of troops, mobile missile launchers, tanks, a new stealth fighter aircraft.