Trump isn’t taking ‘no tanks’ for an answer for July Fourth

WASHINGTON (AP) – United States (US) President Donald Trump isn’t taking “no tanks” for an answer on the Fourth of July.

He said on Monday that a display of US military tanks will be part of a special event he’s headlining on July 4 in Washington, and an Associated Press photographer saw at least two M1A1 Abrams tanks and two Bradley Fighting Vehicles on flatcars in a rail yard at the southeastern edge of Washington.

Military police were guarding the vehicles, which were visible to passers-by on nearby paths.

A US official told the AP that the military vehicles to be used in the July 4 event were being stored at the rail yard.

Trump 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 eventually was scuttled, partly because of cost, though Trump apparently held on to the idea.

Local officials also had objected because of the damage the heavy armoured tanks could do to city streets.

Military police stand military vehicles on a flat car in a rail yard in Washington, ahead of a Fourth of July celebration that United States President Donald Trump says will include military hardware. – AP

“We’re going to have some tanks stationed outside,” Trump said on Monday from the Oval Office, appearing to acknowledge local officials’ earlier concerns.

He offered no specifics on where the vehicles would be located.

“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.”

Sherman tanks were the tank most widely used by the US during World War II, but they have been out of service for decades. The M1A1 Abrams tank is currently the main US battle tank.

Two M1A1 Abrams tanks and two Bradley Fighting Vehicles will be on display as part of Trump’s “Salute to America” event, according to a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the exhibits have not been made public.

The Abrams tanks weigh more than 60 tonnes apiece and were shipped on railroad freight cars, from Fort Stewart, Georgia, the nearest Army base that has them. The White House declined to release more specific information. 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 for closure but remained online due to Trump’s investments in defence spending.

“We have some incredible equipment, military equipment on display – brand new,” 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.”

Tomorrow’s events are also expected to include a military demonstration by the US Navy Blue Angels and other aircraft.

“We’re going to have a great Fourth of July in Washington, DC. It’ll be like no other,” 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,” he said.