Trump’s July 4th event: Military chiefs have concerns about politicization

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In the planning for the event, Pentagon leaders had reservations about putting tanks or other armored vehicles on display, the source said.

As the final details come together, several top military chiefs of the individual services are not attending and instead are sending alternates in their place, though some say they had prior plans.

The private concerns contrast sharply with Trump’s claim Tuesday that “the Pentagon and our great Military Leaders are thrilled” to be participating in his revamped Fourth of July celebrations, which will also feature “incredible flyovers,” fireworks and a speech he’ll deliver.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, will attend. But Gen. Joseph Lengyel, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, is on an overseas USO tour that was planned since May and Gen. David Goldfein, the chief of staff of the Air Force, is on leave.

A US defense official told CNN the White House provided 5,000 tickets to the Pentagon.

This is not the first time military leaders have signaled their discomfort with potential politicization of the military in recent weeks. In early June, former acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan issued an internal memo to all Pentagon personnel, service members and civilian employees calling on leaders to “reinforce the apolitical nature” of the US military, according to a copy obtained by CNN.

The memo was in response followed reports that the White House Military Office coordinated directly with the Navy’s Seventh Fleet to have the USS John S. McCain hidden from view during Trump’s visit to Japan. The late senator and Trump sparred often.

Several types of military aircraft are expected to take part in the event, including the new Marine One Presidential VH-92 helicopter, which will be making its debut, a defense official confirmed to CNN.

Here is the list of attendees as provided by a senior US defense official:

Acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper

Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer

Adm. Bob Burke, Vice Chief of Naval Operations

Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, Deputy Commandant of the US Marine Corps

Acting Air Force Secretary Matthew Donovan

Gen. Stephen Wilson, Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force

Adm. Karl Schultz, US Coast Guard Commandant

Mr. James McPherson, performing the Duties of the Under Secretary of the Army

Lt. Gen. Joseph P. Martin, incoming Vice Chief of Staff of the Army

This story is breaking and will be updated.

CNN’s Nicole Gaouette, Ryan Browne and Devan Cole contributed to this report.



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