The Defense Department has officially begun the lengthy process of renaming bases and other military assets that were named for Confederate leaders.
Acting Defense Secretary Christoper Miller on Friday appointed four members to an eight-member panel mandated by a congressional directive in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act to consider the eventual renaming of at least 10 Army installations and a pair of Navy warships that honor the Confederacy.
Those members include White House associate director Sean McLean, White House liaison to the Pentagon Joshua Whitehouse, acting assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs Ann Johnston, and Earl Matthews, the principal deputy general counsel for the Army and a colonel in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.
The remaining four members of the panel will come from the four leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees: Reps. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), and Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), respectively.
The panel was officially authorized on Jan. 1 when lawmakers overrode President Donald Trump’s veto of the NDAA, a veto that the president had threatened for weeks over the potential renaming of bases that currently honor the Confederacy.
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy had in June stated that he would consider changes to the base names so long as there were bipartisan cooperation and collaboration from both local and federal lawmakers, an idea that Trump quickly rejected.
“Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom,” Trump said on Twitter at the time.
The NDAA mandates the removal of Confederate names, symbols, monuments, and other honors from Pentagon property — including bases, building, aircraft, and warships — within three years under the guidance of the panel.
According to Politico, the panel is formally charged “with developing criteria for identifying Confederate monuments and recommending procedures for renaming the property and gathering input from local communities,” although the NDAA does not necessarily task the panel with coming up with fresh names for bases.
The panel is required to brief the House and Senate Armed Services Committees on its progress by this October in a written report on “the assets that will be removed or renamed, the criteria used to select them, the local input gathered and the costs associated with the removals and renamings,” Politico reports.
The Pentagon will have three years after the NDAA enactment — so until early 2024 — to formally implement the panel’s recommendations.
“It is extremely early in the process,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Hughes told Military.com in a statement Thursday. “To be clear, the DoD is tracking the requirement in the NDAA … At this time, it is too early to say what the plan will entail, and any information would be pre-decisional.”