The Defense Department commission tasked with evaluating whether to remove symbols and rename military installations, buildings, and ships honoring the Confederacy announced its first site visits for the summer and fall: Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Bragg, Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, Fort Hood, Fort Rucker, Fort Lee, Fort Polk, Fort Belvoir, and Fort Pickett. The Navy has also selected the U.S. Naval Ship Maury for consideration.
The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act mandated the creation of an eight-person commission to develop a plan for renaming assets or removing symbols that commemorate soldiers who voluntarily served in the Confederacy or honored it.
Commission members will meet with commanders and hear input from the communities at each of the sites, according to the chair or the commission, retired Admiral Michelle Howard.
“We need an opportunity to meet with local civic leaders, as well as, for example, have discussions with elected leaders, and we’ll use the base commanders who generals have strong ties with the community to help set up conversations between us and those who have interests,” Howard said.
In addition to these first 10 installations, the services are producing lists and cost estimates to change or modify other assets. Howard told reporters the commission could end up evaluating hundreds, since the commission must look at all of them, including smaller ones, like streets.
The commission must brief the House and Senate Armed Services Committees in October and present a briefing and written report to Congress in October 2022. According to the law, the defense secretary must implement the commission’s plan by January 1, 2024.
The commission held its inaugural meeting in March, and members meet biweekly. Four of the eight members are appointed by the defense secretary, and then one member each by the chairs and ranking members of the Senate and House Armed Services committees.
In his first month, as defense secretary, Lloyd Austin replaced the appointees former Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller had made in his last weeks in office with his own picks.