Pentagon Asks Public for Suggestions on Renaming Bases That Honor Confederate Soldiers

Travis Tritten

Military.com

Sep 7, 2021

Fort Bragg, N.C

This Jan. 4, 2020 photo shows a sign for Fort Bragg, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Seward, File)

The Pentagon wants your help renaming military bases that commemorate Civil War Confederate soldiers.

The Defense Department’s commission created earlier this year to look into renaming bases launched a new website Monday and is asking "interested citizens" for recommendations and suggestions as it faces an Oct. 1 deadline to brief Congress on its progress.

The suggestions will be weighed by the Naming Commission chaired by retired Adm. Michelle Howard, which is focused on scrapping and replacing names of iconic military bases such as Fort Bragg, Fort Benning and Fort Hood, as well as ships and other property.

"Our understanding is that the commission is fully funded, staffed and making progress reaching out to stakeholders and the public to help shape its work, which is positive news," Christian Unkenholz, a spokesman for Rep. Anthony Brown, wrote in an email to Military.com.

Brown sponsored the legislation that created the commission in January, along with Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Bacon looks forward to reviewing the commission's "initial report later this year," spokeswoman Abbey Schieffer wrote in an email response.

The Naming Commission declined to comment on its progress Monday. The October briefing deadline was set by the defense authorization bill passed into law on New Year's Day over then-President Donald Trump's veto.

Trump said his administration wouldn't even consider scrubbing Confederate names from bases and called it tampering with history. But an overpowering bipartisan Capitol Hill consensus deemed the names a relic of past racism and discrimination and lawmakers overrode the veto in a major rebuke.

"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," Brown said in a recent press release.

The Naming Commission faces a much more important deadline next year. Congress has asked that the eight-member panel provide a list of military assets to be renamed or removed and report back on how much the effort will cost by Oct. 1, 2022.

The fiscal 2021 defense authorization bill estimated the cost at $2 million, and the House is considering doling out $1 million in the fiscal 2022 defense appropriations legislation.

The list of assets to be renamed could number in the dozens, or even hundreds, and includes "any base, installation, street, building, facility, aircraft, ship, plane, weapon, equipment, or any other property owned or controlled" by the Defense Department, according to the legislation.

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.

Members plan to travel to military installations and meet with military and civic leaders. The renaming work is expected to be completed by 2024.

-- Travis Tritten can be reached at travis.tritten@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @Travis_Tritten.

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