On Friday, the Pentagon and Congress took action to appoint new members to a newly formed commission whose main job consists of renaming Confederate-named military bases and property.
Earlier this month, Biden’s Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin removed Trump-appointed members from the panel. According to The Hill, Austin named four people to the commission, including “retired Adm. Michelle Howard, a former vice chief of naval operations and the first African American woman to command a U.S. Navy ship; former Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Bob Neller; retired Army Brig. Gen. Ty Seidule, professor emeritus of history at West Point; and Kori Schake, a former State and Defense department official who is now director of foreign and defense policy studies at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute.”
In a statement, Austin commented on his picks, saying, “Each of these individuals possesses unique and relevant experience, in and out of government, that I know will inform this important effort.”
Along with Austin, top Republicans on the House and Senate Armed Services committees and Democratic chairmen appointed members.
Those include retired Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, the first Black graduate of West Point to serve as head of the Army Corps of Engineers, selected by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI). Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) picked Jerry Buchanan, a veteran and “a private business owner and civic leader in Tulsa,” a statement from the committee explained.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) picked Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch, who was the former director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) selected his fellow committee member, Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA).
The commission comes from the recent National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Within three years, the goal of the commission will be “planning how to change ‘names, symbols, displays, monuments and paraphernalia to assets of the Department of Defense that commemorate the Confederate States of America or any person who served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America.’”
While most of the focus has been on Army bases that are named after Confederate leaders — of which there are ten — the legislation involves picking new names for any “base, installation, street, building, facility, aircraft, ship, plane, weapon, equipment or any other property owned or controlled by the Department of Defense.”
According to Military.com:
The 10 Army posts named in honor of Confederate generals are Camp Beauregard and Fort Polk in Louisiana; Fort Benning and Fort Gordon in Georgia; Fort Bragg in North Carolina; Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Lee and Fort Pickett in Virginia; Fort Rucker in Alabama, and Fort Hood in Texas. The installations were named primarily during the south’s Jim Crow era in the 1910s and 1940s.
Former President Trump was reportedly not in favor of the renaming efforts, but over the summer of 2020, “senior military leaders such as then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy backed the idea” when tensions in America were high over race relations.