Feds seeking new names for military bases named after Confederate generals
The federal commission that will explore new names for military bases named after Confederate generals, including two in Georgia, is now soliciting public input.
The Naming Commission, which was established earlier this year by the Defense Department, has been tasked with providing naming, renaming, and removal recommendations to Congress for all Department of Defense items that commemorate Civil War Confederate soldiers or battles.
The list includes military bases and other assets that commemorate the Confederate States of America or any person who served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America. The commission is not just considering installations named for people who served the Confederacy, but names that commemorate it in other ways. In support of its effort to change the names of some of its most high-profile bases, the Defense Department is asking for the public’s help in their renaming efforts.
Beyond the first 10 Army installations, it will also review everything from ships, buildings, weapons, planes, equipment, and vehicles. The commission is also looking at renaming or removing titles and plans on looking at the names of streets, buildings, weapons, planes and other equipment named to commemorate the Confederacy or its figures.
The chair of the commission, Retired Adm. Michelle Howard, wants to work with local communities to determine names that reflect the military of today and is encouraging the public to comment on how it should go about its business. Howard indicated that the list of things potentially requiring renaming could run into the hundreds or even thousands.
“The Naming Commission has the important role of recommending names that exemplify our U.S. military and national values,” said Howard. “We are determined to gain feedback and insight from every concerned citizen to ensure the best names are recommended. To accomplish this monumental task, we are engaging with local, city, state and federal leaders and communities. We also encourage all interested citizens to submit naming recommendations here.”
Howard announced in May that the commission would begin by focusing on 10 military bases, including Bragg, Benning, and Hood, each named after men who fought for the Confederacy. The other bases are Fort Rucker, Alabama; Fort Gordon, Georgia; Fort Polk, Louisiana; and four locations in Virginia, including Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Belvoir, Fort Lee and Fort Pickett.
Howard said the Navy has also identified a Navy vessel that may need to be renamed, the oceanographic survey ship Maury. It was named for Matthew Fontaine Maury, who resigned his commission as a U.S. Navy officer at the outbreak of the Civil War and joined the Confederacy.
The Defense Authorization Bill, which created the Commission, passed into law on New Year’s Day over then-President Donald Trump’s veto by an overpowering bipartisan consensus. In a major rebuke, lawmakers deemed the confederate names a relic of past racism and discrimination and overrode Trumps’ veto.
Maryland Rep. Anthony Brown, who sponsored the legislation that created the Naming Commission said in a recent press release, “Men who fought to preserve the institution of slavery and betrayed our country to defend white supremacy do not deserve to be honored by our military.”
An October briefing deadline, established by the Defense Authorization Bill, is quickly approaching, which some say is prompting the need to turn to the public for support in this effort.
The commission will send Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Congress their plan for renaming installations — including suggestions for new names — but it will be up to Secretary Austin to choose how to implement the plan and which new names to choose.
U.S. Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, is the only member of Congress on the naming commission.
THE NAMING COMMISSION
Adm. Michelle Howard, U.S. Navy, Retired, Chair
Brig. Gen. Ty Seidule, U.S. Army, Retired, Vice-Chair
Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, U.S. Army, Retired
Mr. Jerry Buchannan
Gen. Robert Neller, U.S. Marine Corps, Retired
Mr. Lawrence Romo
Dr. Kori Schake
U.S. Rep. Austin Scott (Georgia)