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How Did The US Military Get All Those Confederate-Named Bases, Anyway?
There’s been a lot of anxiety and emotion surrounding the Confederate monuments issue, especially now after the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. City mayors have begun to take steps to remove the controversial statues. But statues in cities aren’t the only tangible monuments to these sometimes-revered, sometimes-reviled rebels. We know that U.S. Army installations across the Southern United States are named for Confederate generals; the question no one seems to answer is why.
The U.S. Army has 10 Confederate-named bases in 6 Southern states.CNN/screenshot
Originally, U.S. forts or posts were named primarily for war heroes or prominent figures in American history, as determined by the War Department and the headquarters of the Army. But on many occasions, naming decisions were left up to local commanders; as a result, most installations prior to World War I were named innocuously for whoever the Army district C.O. or neighborhood leaders wanted.
The current crop of 10 installations with Confederate names grew out of the Army’s expansion during the world wars.
The first wave: World War I and II
As the Army looked to grow exponentially after America’s entry into World War I, the War Department sought out land to build new training posts. Installations to train hundreds of thousands of new recruits sprang up all across the country. And the Army — with input from local communities, depending upon location — named each post. (Sidenote: My great grandfather worked as a carpenter and helped build Camp Grant, named after Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, outside Rockford, Illinois, in 1917 before he was drafted.)
Installations in the South tended to be named after local rebel heroes — either by the community that still took their Confederate heritage seriously, or by the Army, which believed that Confederate history was a part of its own. The Army still believes that on some level, given how they require current Army National Guard units in Southern states to display Confederate battle streamers.
Brig. Gen. Edmund Rucker was saved from Union captivity by his friend, Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. After the war, they went into business together, and Forrest went on to run the Ku Klux Klan.Photoillustration
Not all of the South’s new posts were named after Southern generals, however. In Georgia, for an example, Camp Benning, named after Confederate Gen. Henry Benning in 1918, was erected the same time as Camp Hancock, named for American Union Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock. (Hancock has since closed, but Fort Benning lives on.)
After World War I, most of these camps closed, but a few — including Camp Bragg in North Carolina and Georgia’s Camp Gordon — were selected to become permanent posts. The names became permanent, too.
With America’s entrance into World War II looming on the horizon, the War Department again began to expand the Army, and with it more training posts. Some old camps were reinvigorated and new ones built, like Camp Hood, Texas, in 1942. The naming conventions had remained more or less the same between the wars, so local communities in consultation with the Army got to help name those installations growing up around them.
Standardizing the process
After the war, the Army formalized how it named posts, forts, and installations through a board called the Army Memorialization Board. Governed by Army regulations, this board was charged with ensuring all Army post names met at least one of five criteria. Someone who was so honored would need to be:
- “a national hero of absolute preeminence by virtue of high position,
- an individual who held a position of high and extensive responsibility (Army and above) and whose death was a result of battle wounds,
- an individual who held a position of high and extensive responsibility and whose death was not a result of battle wounds,
- an individual who performed an act of heroism or who held a position of high responsibility and whose death was a result of battle wounds, and
- an individual who performed an act of heroism or who held a position of high responsibility and whose death was not a result of battle wounds.”
The Army, evidently, concluded each C.S.A. name met at least one of these criteria.
Today, as monuments to Confederate leaders and generals come down, the question is: Will the Army do the same with these 10 installations and rename them? The issue has been raised before, with then-Brig. Gen. Malcolm Frost, the Army’s chief spokesman saying in 2015 that the names were a part of American history and represent national reconciliation.
The changing situation
Recent events in Charlottesville may change the Department of the Army’s thinking. Responses to the violence from military senior leaders, including the Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark Milley, have been unanimous in denouncing hatred and racism as against the military’s values.
Ultimately, the Army does have the power to change these bases’ names. Whether they have the motivation to is another matter. Flipping the script on some of the biggest, best-known military installations in the world will take time and money. It also will undoubtedly cause friction inside the Army and beyond. Only a concerted effort on the part of those who wish to see Confederate base names go away will actually make it happen.
Major Mark Herbert is an Army officer, strategist, and military historian. Any personal thoughts or opinions are his alone and do not represent the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.
Former Marine Commandant tells Trump that pardoning troops accused of war crimes 'relinquishes the moral high ground'
Former Marine Commandant Gen. Charles Krulak has issued a statement urging President Donald Trump and members of Congress to oppose pardons for those accused or convicted of war crimes since, he argued, it would "relinquish the United States' moral high ground."
"If President Trump follows through on reports that he will mark Memorial Day by pardoning individuals accused or convicted of war crimes, he will betray these ideals and undermine decades of precedent in American military justice that has contributed to making our country's fighting forces the envy of the world," said Krulak, who served in the Marine Corps for more than three decades before retiring in 1999 as the 31st Commandant.
Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at Associated Materials. Committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace, Associated Materials Incorporated is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn more here.
Associated Materials, a residential and commercial siding and window manufacturer based in Ohio, employs people from a variety of backgrounds. The company gives them an opportunity to work hard and grow within the organization. For Tim Betsinger, Elizabeth Dennis, and Tanika Carroll, all military veterans with wide-ranging experience, Associated Materials has provided a work environment similar to the military and a company culture that feels more like family than work.
President Donald Trump will nominate Barbara Barrett to serve as the next Air Force secretary, the president announced on Tuesday.
"I am pleased to announce my nomination of Barbara Barrett of Arizona, and former Chairman of the Aerospace Corporation, to be the next Secretary of the Air Force," Trump tweeted. "She will be an outstanding Secretary! #FlyFightWin"
The Trump administration is trying to assure Congress that it does not want to start a war with Iran, but some lawmakers who fought in Iraq are not so sure.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford both briefed Congress on Tuesday about Iran. Shanahan told reporters earlier on Tuesday that the U.S. military buildup in the region has stopped Iran and its proxies from attacking U.S. forces, but the crisis is not yet over.
"We've put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans," Shanahan said. "That doesn't mean that the threats that we've previously identified have gone away. Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate. I think our response was a measure of our will and our resolve that we will protect our people and our interests in the region."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump warned on Monday Iran would be met with "great force" if it attacked U.S. interests in the Middle East, and government sources said Washington strongly suspects Shi'ite militias with ties to Tehran were behind a rocket attack in Baghdad's Green Zone.
"I think Iran would be making a very big mistake if they did anything," Trump told reporters as he left the White House on Monday evening for an event in Pennsylvania. "If they do something, it will be met with great force but we have no indication that they will."