NORFOLK, Virginia — Renaming nine U.S. Army posts that honor Confederate officers would cost a total of $21 million if facilities renamed everything from welcome marquees and signage to water towers and hospital gates, an independent commission has found. .
The Naming Commission released its final report Monday on recommending new Army base names to Congress. It included a 17-page list of Confederate-related assets, from decals on 300 recycling bins in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to a sign for a softball field in Fort Hood, Texas.
The report is the latest step in a broader effort by the military to address racial injustice, most recently following the May 2020 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The name change process was set out in legislation passed by Congress in late 2020. The Secretary of Defense is expected to implement the commission’s plan no later than January 1, 2024.
Monday’s report provided detailed — and sometimes unflattering — descriptions of the Confederate officers whose names would be removed as well as the accomplishments of those whose names would replace them. Fort Bragg is the only base that wouldn’t be named after a person. It would be called Fort Liberté.
The commission wrote that Fort Benning in Georgia was named after a “lawyer, ardent secessionist, staunch opponent of abolition, and senior officer in the Confederate Army”.
The report states that Henry L. Benning “has publicly declared that he would rather be stricken with disease and starvation than see slaves freed and enjoy equality as citizens.”
The commission recommends renaming the base after a married couple: Lt. Gen. Hal Moore, who served in Vietnam and received the Distinguished Service Cross, and his wife Julia, who spurred the creation of in-person notification teams military losses.
Renaming the base would cost just under $5 million, according to the report. The effort would target anything from wording on airfield doors to the name of an airstrip. It would also include removing Confederate names from cobblestones on a walk to a memorial that honors U.S. Army Rangers.
Fort Bragg, home to the 82nd Airborne Division, was named after a “slave-holding plantation owner and senior Confederate army officer,” the report said.
Braxton Bragg is “considered one of the worst generals of the Civil War; most of the battles in which he was involved ended in defeat and resulted in enormous casualties for the Confederate army; strongly consecutive to defeat ultimate Confederation,” the commission wrote. .
Renaming the base to Fort Liberty would cost about $6.3 million, according to the report. This would include the rebranding of 45 police vehicles and 15 emergency service vehicles, such as fire trucks and ambulances.
Other recommended bases for renaming are Fort AP Hill, Fort Lee, and Fort Pickett in Virginia; Fort Gordon in Georgia, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Polk in Louisiana and Fort Rucker in Alabama.
For years, US military officials had defended bases being named after Confederate officers. But in the aftermath of Floyd’s murder and the months of racial unrest that followed, Congress ordered a comprehensive plan to rename military posts and hundreds of other federal assets such as roads, buildings, memorials, signs and monuments that honored rebel leaders.
The shift in Army thinking was reflected in the congressional testimony of Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a month after Floyd’s death. He said the current base names could remind black soldiers that rebel officers fought for an institution that may have enslaved their ancestors.
The Naming Commission said subsequent installments of the final report will deal with the assets of military academies and other locations within the Department of Defense.