(EDITOR’S NOTE, 8/16/18, 8:22 PM ET: This article has been updated to include a tweet from the Associated Press reporting that the Pentagon has postponed the military parade until 2019.)
President Trump’s military parade is now expected to cost approximately $92 million — more than seven times higher than the original estimate.
On Thursday, CNBC reported that, according to the Department of Defense’s calculations, the cost of parading multiple military vehicles and thousands of troops down the streets of Washington, DC is much higher than the $12 million estimate given in July. The parade will feature approximately eight tanks, as well as aircraft flyovers featuring helicopters, fighter jets, and military transport aircraft.
Along with the tanks, aircraft, and troops wearing uniforms from the past and present, the controversial military parade will require significant costly security measures, as well as tightly coordinated logistical planning to manage the transportation of the various expensive military vehicles and aircraft to be featured in the parade. The Pentagon is expected to make an official announcement regarding the full cost of the military parade in the coming days, according to CNBC.
For some, the idea of a military parade conjures images of authoritarian regimes, like Soviet Russia in the Cold War era, or North Korea and China, which are both known for elaborate displays of military might on a regular basis. However, Trump said he got the idea for a military parade in the U.S. by attending the Bastille Day parade in France.
In a July interview with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, Jon Stoltz, an Iraq War veteran and chairman of veterans’ advocacy group VoteVets, said a military parade like the one Trump wants is not unlike what is typically seen in “a former Soviet bloc nation who basically uses the military to promote strength.”
“Inside the military, our soldiers and our airmen and our marines are taught to, you know, speak lightly and carry a big stick,” Stoltz said at the time. “To watch 7,000 U.S. troops lose Veterans’ Day with their families to march for [Trump] down Constitution Avenue probably isn’t the best use of our resources right now.”
"We're not a banana republic and we're not a former-Soviet Bloc nation who uses the military to promote strength." VoteVets chair @jonsoltz speaking with @BrookeBCNN about why veterans are opposed to Trump's $12 million parade. #NoTrumpParade pic.twitter.com/ntInGjl1U0
— VoteVets (@votevets) July 26, 2018
Feeding America estimates that to feeding one hungry person in America would cost just $2.94 per meal, or $8.82 for three meals a day. 2016 data from the National Alliance to End Homelessness shows there are approximately 39,471 homeless veterans in the United States. This means that, for the same cost of a military parade, the Department of Defense could instead provide all of those homeless veterans three square meals a day for 264 days (more than eight months) for the same cost of the parade. Alternatively, all of those veterans could get a check for $2,330 instead of a parade.
$92 million could also provide counseling and other mental healthcare treatment for more than 40,000 veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, according to 2012 figures from the National Council for Behavioral Health. Veterans’ news site Task and Purpose estimated that, using the original $10 million to 12 million figure, the Department of Defense could pay for one month’s rent for 3,600 veterans paying rent with Housing and urban Development vouchers. But with $92 million, that same number of veterans could pay rent for almost an entire year.
Perhaps due to blowback over the cost, the Department of Defense announced Thursday evening that the parade has been postponed until 2019:
BREAKING: Pentagon says military parade proposed for Veterans Day delayed at least until 2019.
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) August 17, 2018
Logan Espinoza is a freelance contributor specializing in economic issues. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and daughter. Contact him at logan DOT espinoza AT yahoo DOT com.