Defense Secretary James Mattis said Wednesday that President Donald Trump's order to have a grand military parade in Washington, D.C. is reflective of "his fondness for the military."
Pentagon officials confirmed this week that they are planning a military parade later this year at Trump's direction. Mattis addressed the White House press corps on Wednesday about the importance of fully funding the military in the congressional budget, and was asked about the parade and whether he yet had a cost estimate.
"I think we're all aware in this country of the president's affection and respect for the military," Mattis said. "We've been putting together some options. We'll send them up to the White House for a decision."
"Why divert time, energy, financial resources to the planning of a parade as the president has asked?" MSNBC reporter Hallie Jackson asked.
"Again, I think that what my responsibility is to make certain I lay out the strategy and make the argument for the oversight of Congress to make a determination of fully funding us," Mattis said. "As far as the parade goes, again, the president's respect, his fondness for the military, I think, is reflected in him asking for these options."
The Washington Post first reported that Trump had asked military officials to plan the parade, and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later confirmed it in a statement.
"President Trump is incredibly supportive of America's great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe," Sanders said. "He has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation."
Democrats have criticized the proposed parade as a waste of money and more befitting of an autocratic regime, although the U.S. has held such parades in the past, most recently in 1991 to celebrate the success of the Gulf War.