Tanks arrive for Trump’s July 4 celebration event
Thursday’s Salute to America event in Washington is also expected to include a military demonstration by the US Navy Blue Angels.
Tanks have begun arriving in Washington DC after Donald Trump said the military hardware would be part of his Independence Day celebrations.
At least two M1A1 Abrams tanks and two Bradley Fighting Vehicles were spotted on rail transporters at the south-eastern edge of the capital.
Military police were guarding the vehicles, which were visible to passers-by on nearby paths.
The US president had wanted a military parade of tanks and other equipment in the District of Columbia after he witnessed a similar parade on Bastille Day in Paris in 2017. That plan was eventually scuttled, partly because of cost, but Mr Trump apparently held on to the idea.
Local officials had also objected because of the damage the heavy armoured tanks could do to city streets.
“We’re going to have some tanks stationed outside,” Mr Trump said from the White House Oval Office, appearing to acknowledge local officials’ earlier concerns.
He offered no specifics on where the vehicles would be located for the July 4 celebrations.
“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 Abrams tanks.”
The Sherman was the most widely used tank by US forces during the Second World War, but they have been out of service for decades. The M1A1 Abrams is currently the main US battle tank.
Two M1A1 Abrams tanks and two Bradley Fighting Vehicles will be on display as part of Mr Trump’s Salute to America event, according to a US official.
Abrams tanks weigh more than 60 tons and were shipped on railway freight cars, from Fort Stewart, Georgia.
Big 4th of July in D.C. “Salute to America.” The Pentagon & our great Military Leaders are thrilled to be doing this & showing to the American people, among other things, the strongest and most advanced Military anywhere in the World. Incredible Flyovers & biggest ever Fireworks!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2019
Mr Trump recalled his visit earlier this year to a plant in Lima, Ohio, where M1A1 Abrams tanks are refurbished. The plant had been at risk of closure but remained operational due to his investments in defence spending.
“We have some incredible equipment, military equipment on display — brand new,” Mr Trump said. “And we’re very proud of it.
“You know we’re making a lot of new tanks right now. 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, and now it’s a very productive facility.”
Thursday’s events are also expected to include a military demonstration by the US Navy Blue Angels and other aircraft.
Find planning info for this year’s July 4th events including the National Independence Day Parade, Salute to America, A Capitol Fourth, and the biggest fireworks display ever on the National Mall at: https://t.co/pCbq5TpXKK pic.twitter.com/ngL8QghMng— National Mall NPS (@NationalMallNPS) June 25, 2019
“We’re going to have a great Fourth of July in Washington DC. It’ll be like no other,” Mr Trump said.
“It’ll be special and I hope a lot of people come. And it’s going to be about this country and it’s a salute to America.
“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.”
Trump plans to deliver a speech at the Lincoln Memorial during the event, which has been added to the regular schedule of Independence Day events in the nation’s capital.
The event is open to the public and free of charge, but a ticket-only area in front of the memorial is being set aside for VIPs, including members of Mr Trump’s family, friends and members of the military, the White House said.