1,700 troops will support Trump's 4th of July celebration plans, Pentagon says


WASHINGTON - The Pentagon announced Friday that for the second year in a row, the Department of Defense will provide troops and substantial support to President Donald Trump's expanded Independence Day celebrations.

Approximately 1,700 troops will provide support to the Department of the Interior with "Salute to America" celebrations in Washington, D.C., as well as flyovers of other cities including New York, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia and the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.

"The highlight of this year's celebration will be our salute to the Great Cities of the American Revolution.," Mitchell said. "The flyovers will begin in Boston and proceed to New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore. From there they will join other Department of Defense and heritage aircraft in the Salute to America over our nation's capital."

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The statement did not specify which aircraft would be showcased, but it added that "Flying hours are a sunk cost for the Department of Defense, and these aircraft and crews would be using these hours for proficiency and training at other locations if they were not conducting these flyovers."

"The exact timing of the flyovers is still being worked and will be announced soon," the statement reads.

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Last year's celebration involved flyovers by the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, B-2 stealth bomber, and F-22 Raptor. The nation's capital last year also rumbled with tanks, and Trump's demand they be part of his "Salute to America" on the National Mall prompted criticism.

The announcement of the troops' assistance comes one day after a new report from the Government Accountability Office said that Trump's elaborate Independence Day celebrations last year in D.C., cost double that of previous years, ringing up $13 million in taxpayer dollars.

Report: Trump's 2019 Fourth of July event cost $13 million, double that of previous years

Much of the increase was "attributable to the cost for (the Department of Defense) to transport several vehicles to the National Mall" and "the production and execution of the Salute to America event," according to the GAO.

While D.C.'s annual parade has been canceled this year amid coronvirus concerns, the president is currently planning to push ahead with modified plans for a July Fourth celebration in the capital, despite objections from lawmakers.

They have expressed worry about crowds gathering amid the health crisis and the cost during a turbulent economy. Last year's cost was "paid for primarily with annual federal appropriations."

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White House spokesperson Judd Deere told USA TODAY that the event "will have a different look than 2019 to ensure the health and safety of those attending."

The White House announced Trump "will host the 2020 Salute to America on the South Lawn of the White House and Ellipse" this year.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Pentagon: 1,700 troops will support Trump's July Fourth celebration


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