US airman firing at Fort Bragg range 060520 CREDIT US AIR FORCE
USA

US Military Split On Bases Named After Confederate Generals

Last month, President Donald Trump said his administration would not even consider the renaming of bases.

US airman firing at Fort Bragg range 060520 CREDIT US AIR FORCE

Confederate Army symbols within the US military, including prominent bases named after rebel generals, are divisive and can be offensive to black people in uniform, a top American officer has said.

"The American Civil War was fought and it was an act of rebellion, it was an act of treason at the time, against the Union, against the Stars and Stripes, against the US Constitution, and those officers turned their backs on their oaths," General Mark Milley told a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

Gen Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted that some see it differently.

"Some think it’s heritage. Others think it’s hate," he said.

Gen Milley added he has recommended creating a commission to study the matter.

The House and Senate versions of the National Defence Authorisation Act for the budget year starting 1 October include provisions for changing the names of 10 US Army bases named for Confederate generals.

President Donald Trump says he would veto the defence bill if the version that reaches his desk includes a requirement to change the names.

"These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of winning, victory, and freedom," Mr Trump wrote on Twitter last month.

"The United States of America trained and deployed our heroes on these hallowed grounds, and won two world wars.

"Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these magnificent and fabled military installations."

Change of command ceremony at Fort Hood's Cooper Field
A change of command ceremony at Fort Hood (Picture: US Department of Defense).

Gen Milley did not explicitly say the base names should be changed, but he noted that around 20% of US Army personnel are black.

"For those young soldiers that go onto a base, a Fort Hood, a Fort Bragg or a fort wherever named after a Confederate general, they can be reminded that that general fought for the institution of slavery that may have enslaved one of their ancestors," he said.

He recalled an enlisted soldier told him, early in Gen Milley’s career while serving at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, that "he went to work every day on a base that represented a guy who had enslaved his grandparents".

Cover image: US airman firing at Fort Bragg range (Picture: US Air Force).