Opinion

Parade, or 'Parade Rest'?

|
Posted: Feb 09, 2018 8:14 AM
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not represent the views of Townhall.com.
Parade, or 'Parade Rest'?

With all of the talk going on right now about President Trump’s suggestion that there be a military parade, perhaps it’s time to get past all the hoopla and politics and take a long look at the true impact of what’s being proposed.

First of all, as a Vietnam-era veteran of the Army I can attest to the fact that military parades were a much hated part of Army life.  Anyone who ever participated in a parade in the military knows that this is likely where the term “hurry up and wait” originated.

Soldiers are regularly ordered to participate in ‘Change of Command’ ceremonies and other ‘dog and pony shows’, when they’d much rather be taking advantage of time with their families and loved ones.  Since 2001 our military has missed a lot of birthdays, anniversaries, Christmases, and other holidays and important events. 

For a military unit to bask in the glory of marching for thirty seconds past a reviewing stand occupied by VIPs it normally takes days of practice and preparation.  The Army never wants to look sloppy when marching, particularly when in front of the president and senior leadership, so I can guarantee that days of practice and preparations will take place.  With much of the time soldiers standing around waiting for something to do. Typical “hurry up and wait”.

Logistically moving even a small unit from one location to another is not as simple as jumping in cars and hitting the road.  Think about the logistics of moving an entire battalion of troops, anywhere between 300 and 800 soldiers, depending on the mission and makeup of the unit.Obviously military or contracted public transportation units will have to become involved in order to move that number of soldiers.

When I went through Basic Combat Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri – “Fort Lost in the Woods” for those who went through there – individual companies were moved around in semi-truck trailers affectionately called “cattle cars” by the troops.Definitely not ‘First Class’ seating.

And you certainly aren’t going to bring them in right before show-time and have them get off the buses or out of the backs of Army trucks, then line them up and start marching down the boulevard.  They may have to arrive at least a day before, which means accommodating and feeding them will become an issue.

A staging area for the parade will have to be established, along with temporary accommodations at that site for potential medical emergencies that might arise as soldiers are standing around waiting for their moment in the sun.  Speaking of moments in the sun, let’s hope that indeed the sun is shining and it isn’t pouring down rain on parade day.  If that happens there are going to be a lot of miserable and wet soldiers.

Not only are they going to be wet and miserable, but any weapons they may be carrying at ‘sling arms’ are going to need attention once the parade is over.  As well as any other equipment that may have been used, carried, or on display.  Likely days of work will be waiting for them afterwards as a result of participating in a parade.

Once a unit reaches the end of the parade route then they have to be able to return back to the staging area where it all started.  Do they walk back, march back in formation down other city streets, or will there be buses at the end waiting to pick them up again?  Then they have to be transported back to their command or base.All these logistical issues will take time, once again having the soldiers “hurrying up just to wait.”

We currently celebrate ‘Armed Forces Day’ in this country so perhaps that might be a better option for highlighting our nation’s military.  At sites all around the country some military units already set up equipment displays, reenactments, and other demonstrations to educate the country, including young people on what the military does and how it contributes to our nation’s security.  Perhaps this can be expanded upon.

I think that would be much more effective than having a bunch of soldiers “hurrying up to wait” for hours just for a few moments of public recognition.