Trump Asserts Control Over The Military As Commander In Chief, Base Names Are Here To Stay

U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced that they are open to reconsidering their stance on renaming army bases and military installations named after Confederate generals and commanders such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Benning in Georgia, and Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia.

The announcement from the Army on Monday comes as a reversal from February when the Army had announced that it had no plans to change the name of any base, including those named after Confederate military officers. Years prior, the Army stood firm that the bases were named in the “spirit of reconcilation.”

The Marine Corps announced Friday that it was officially banning the display and removal of Confederate-era symbols and flags from their installations. The U.S. Navy is working on an order that “would prohibit the Confederate battle flag from all public spaces and work areas aboard Navy installations, ships, aircrafts, and submarines.”

In a joint statement with Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston and Army Chief of Staff General James McConville, McCarthy wrote, “We feel the frustration and anger.” McCarthy also added that his views on the Confederate flag had altered due to nationwide protest and the civil unrest in America. “Over the past week, the country has suffered an explosion of frustration over the racial divisions that still plague us as Americans and because your Army is a reflection of American society, those divisions live in the Army as well.”

General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “fully supports the discussion and Secretary McCarthy’s efforts, as the statutory authority, to explore this issue.”

In order for the Army to officially rename its installation, there would have to be deliberation from the White House, Congress, and state and local governments before the changes could take effect.

President Trump has repeatedly defended the statues as an integral part of American history. On Wednesday, President Donald Trump tweeted on the matter:

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at a press briefing that President Trump would not sign any potential legislation including the National Defense Authorization Act which includes language to change the names of U.S. forts.