‘Leave Tanks for Red Square’: Trump’s July 4 Celebration Unsettles Military

Throughout the day on Wednesday, Park Service employees and nearly three dozen Marines and Army soldiers raced to get ready for the presidential show. Some military units stationed in the capital region had difficulty getting enough troops to carry out the preparations on such short notice because many troops are already on leave for the holiday.

As workers erected a staged draped in red, white and blue, audio technicians tested some of the musical playlist: the “Star Wars” theme, “Hail to the Chief,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “God Bless the U.S.A.”

Hundreds of yards of cyclone fencing fanned out from the memorial down the National Mall including several lengths installed across the width of the Reflecting Pool by security guards splashing through knee-deep water as a family of ducks looked on.

Pentagon officials said Mr. Trump insisted on including the tanks and armored vehicles in the celebration, prompting a scramble among officials at Fort Stewart in Georgia to move the vehicles to Washington and position them around the Lincoln Memorial instead of parading them down streets and over bridges that would be damaged under the heavy load.

But the two 70-ton Abrams tanks trucked from Fort Stewart were still deemed too heavy to roll onto the delicate apron of the Lincoln Memorial and will remain confined to the asphalt road behind it. Mr. Trump will salute America in sight of the two more diminutive, 30-ton Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, painted in woodland camo, their treads festooned in navy blue drapes.

But all the preparations could be upended if the weather in Washington refuses to cooperate. Forecasts for July 4 predicted the usual hot and steamy start to the day, followed by a more than 50 percent chance of thunderstorms, possibly including lightning. Such storms could cause the Pentagon to call off the flyovers that Mr. Trump wants so badly.

Perhaps anticipating such an outcome, administration officials began pointing fingers at one another and assigning blame in case of disappointing attendance or any other unforeseen complications. Among the major items that wasn’t taken care of over a week ago was the printing of thousands of tickets, people familiar with the planning said.

The White House and the Interior Department each believed the other fell down on the job of the planning. The Department of Defense, where several officials consider the military display to be unseemly, was prepared to blame all other departments, an administration official said.

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