But in recent days, another issue has competed for Smith's attention: how to satisfy President
The ongoing negotiations over whether to use massive military hardware, such as Abrams tanks or Bradley Fighting Vehicles, as a prop for Trump's "Salute to America" is just one of many unfinished details when it comes to the celebration planned for Thursday, according to several people briefed on the plan, who requested anonymity to speak frankly.
Traditionally, major gatherings on the Mall, including inauguration festivities and a jubilee commemorating the start of a new millennium, have featured a designated event producer. But in this case, the producer is the president himself.
Trump has demonstrated an unusual level of interest in this year's
As a result, the administration has organized a far more ambitious celebration than was originally planned, at a yet-to-be specified additional cost to taxpayers. Two major fireworks firms have donated a pyrotechnic show valued at
Trump has also spurred the use of military aircraft for a flyover, including one of the jetliners used as Air Force One. In addition, the
Trump is also is interested in other "surprise" military flyovers, including one featuring an F-35, according to a government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the move has yet to be announced.
About 300 service members, primarily from bands and drill teams, are slated to participate as well.
Asked about the discussions about using armored vehicles and the projected overall costs of the event, Interior officials also declined to publicly comment. They noted that the department had issued an updated itinerary announcing the timing of the president's speech, as well as additional details on the military performance and 35-minute fireworks display.
Trump has been fixated since early in his term with putting on a military-heavy parade or other celebration modeled on
The type of armored tactical vehicles under consideration for this year's
Advocates for the
"It's irresponsible to ask the
Caption: The stage and bleachers for