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Precedence and proximity to Washington, D.C., could prevent Utah-based service members, especially reservists, from participating in President Donald Trump’s proposed military parade — although the Pentagon says all options are on the table.

The logistics of such a parade — which White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders characterized in the Wednesday media briefing as “literally in a brainstorming” phase — are unclear.

But Utah National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Steve Fairbourn told The Salt Lake Tribune that same day that such a procession would likely include active-duty troops or reservists closer to the parade site.

Because of that, Fairbourn said it wasn’t likely Trump would tap Utah National Guard members to march. Also, if Trump wanted the Utah National Guard, or any other reservists, he’d need to federalize them.

“Our status would have to be changed to federal orders, which again is why I say that is unlikely and rare,” Fairbourn said. “We typically only see that when we’re deployed to a theater of war or in an extreme case of martial law.”

Al Hartmann  |  The Salt Lake Tribune 
Marine Corps roll along the Day's of 47 parade route in downtown Salt Lake City Monday July 25 celebrating Utah's heritage and spirit.

Department of Defense spokesman Lt. Col. Jamie Davis told The Tribune on Friday that he cautioned anyone against theorizing who would be in the parade and where it would be held.

“This could be something that’s in Texas. This could be something that’s in California. Could be something that’s in D.C.,” Davis said. “There’s lots of different things that it could be.”

Davis later said federalizing Guard members for the parade was possible.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that military officials, during a Jan. 18 meeting with the president, took Trump’s “seemingly abstract desire for a parade” as a directive and began planning.

Huckabee Sanders told reporters during the news briefing the next day that Trump asked military leaders only “to look at different ways and explore and see what those options look like.”

She said Trump wanted a parade to “highlight and show the pride that we have in the military.”

Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune
Staff Sgt. Aaron Bonzo, left, and Master Sgt. Allen Jackson with the Utah National Guard post the colors alongside Speaker of the House, Greg Hughes, for the start of the 2016 Legislative Session on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016 at the Utah Capitol.

Since the parade was reported, the idea has run into criticism from politicians and veterans who question the propriety of the spectacle, including the former Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden.

Robert James O’Neill tweeted Thursday, calling the parade “third world bull----.”

“We prepare. We deter. We fight. Stop this conversation,” he wrote.

In Utah, Fairbourn said the National Guard often participates in parades, adding that it’s a good way to show off service members’ discipline and training. He said he was excited Trump was considering such a parade.

When asked for Hill Air Force Base’s response to the parade, a spokesman deferred comment to the Department of Defense.

Davis responded to the department’s position on whether the parade was a good idea by saying, “We are in the planning process of this.”

At the Wednesday news briefing, Huckabee Sanders told reporters it would be speculation for her to weigh in on the appropriateness of the parade since there are no concrete plans in place.

8 days ago |
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