Defense Department and congressional leaders on Feb. 12 announced eight appointees to the bipartisan commission tasked with renaming military bases that bear the monikers of Confederate leaders.
Congress, in the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, called on the Pentagon to begin the process of removing homages to Confederate leaders, like Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Hood, Texas. Lawmakers created the panel despite a disagreement on the issue with former President Donald J. Trump that threatened to derail the legislation altogether.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III’s picks for the commission are retired Adm. Michelle Howard, the Navy’s first Black and female admiral; former Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller; Kori Schake, the director of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute; and retired Army Brig. Gen. Ty Seidule, an emeritus professor of history at the U.S. Military Academy.
“Each of these individuals possesses unique and relevant experience, in and out of government, that I know will inform this important effort,” Austin said. “I am enormously grateful for their willingness to serve the nation again, and I thank them in advance for the wise counsel I am confident they will provide.”
Leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees also announced their appointees. SASC Chairman Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) chose retired Army Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, a former Army Chief of Engineers and the first Black graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to serve in that role. SASC Ranking Member Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) picked Jerry Buchanan, a former drill sergeant and investment business owner.
HASC Chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) selected Lonnie G. Bunch III, the 14th secretary of the Smithsonian and former director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. HASC Ranking Member Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) picked Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.), whose district includes Moody and Robins Air Force Bases.
The commission is tasked with developing a plan to rename DOD resources in conversation with local communities. That blueprint is required by October 2022, to implement the changes by Jan. 1, 2024.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Feb. 12 that while the committee will focus on renaming bases that bear the names of Confederate generals, it goes beyond that to include monuments, symbols, displays, and other items that commemorate the Confederacy.
“It’s bigger than just bases,” he said.