(WASHINGTON) — The Pentagon estimates it cost $1.2 million for the military’s participation in the July Fourth “Salute to America,” which included flyovers by military aircraft and the presence of Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles by the Lincoln Memorial.During the Salute to America event on the National Mall, President Donald Trump highlighted the accomplishments of the military services individually and the specific aircraft representing each service. Participating in those flyovers were Air Force F-22 Raptor fighters and a B-2 Spirit bomber, Army Apache helicopters, Marine MV-22 Ospreys, Navy F-35C Lightning II fighters and F/A-18 Hornets and Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk and MH-65 Dolphin helicopters. One of the Boeing 747’s used as Air Force One and the new VH-92 Sikorsky helicopter that will serve as Marine One also joined the flyover. Then a flight demonstration from the Navy’s elite Blue Angels flight demonstration team concluded the event.The $1.2 million does not include the cost of the military flyovers, which were absorbed in the individual military services’ training budgets.”The Department of Defense supported the ‘Salute to America’ with demonstrations by aircraft, static displays of equipment and ceremonial unit participation,” according to a statement from the Pentagon’s Comptroller’s Office. “Additional funding was used for the transportation of static displays and equipment. The total cost of the Department’s support to the ‘Salute to America’ event was $1.2 million.”Most of the aircraft conducted round trip flights to Washington from their home bases, including the Air Force B-2 that flew from its base in Missouri. The two Navy F-35 aircraft flew the longest distance to the nation’s capital from their base in Lemoore, California the day before the event to participate.But ahead of the ceremony it was the Army’s movement of two Abrams M1A2 tanks and two M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles from the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia, that garnered the most attention.Addressing criticism that the military’s participation in the event would present an excessive cost, the Pentagon provided costs associated with other events nationwide.That includes the $1.8 million it costs for the Navy to hold Fleet Week in San Francisco and the $2.5 million associated with Fleet Week in New York.According to the Pentagon’s figures, the Blue Angels have conducted 47 flyovers in fiscal year 2019 at a cost of $36 million.The day after the event, Trump told reporters that he expected military recruiting numbers to increase as a result of the event, designed to salute the Armed Forces.”You’re going to have a lot of people being recruited, I think, based on that,” he said. “And I think, really, that you’re going to see a big spike. I’ve already heard it — a lot of people calling in. No place like our military. I think we showed that last night.”However, measuring the potential impacts of the event on military recruiting may not be seen for a while.”As the decision to join the military and the enlistment process takes an extended period of time, the Department is unable to directly attribute the impact of a single event or a specific day to a decision to join the military,” said Jessica Maxwell, a Pentagon spokesperson.”The only exception in recent history surrounds the events of Sept. 11, 2001, when there was an increase in the number of individuals who expressed a desire to serve; however, unfortunately many of those individuals were not qualified and the trend was short-lived,” she added.
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