Panel Selected to Determine New Honorees for Military Bases Named for Confederate Leaders

Members of a panel to rename U.S. military bases currently named after leaders in the Confederate Army were announced Friday by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committee.

Calls to change the names of the military bases began as protests against systemic racism occurred in 2020. Former President Donald Trump did not support the idea. In December 2020, Trump vetoed the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in part because of a provision that would require the bases to be given new names. President Joe Biden endorsed the idea of removing the names of Confederate leaders from the military bases.

Austin chose 4 members of the panel, including retired Navy Admiral Michelle Howard, retired Marine Corps General Robert Neller, retired Brigadier General Ty Seidule and Kori Schake, the director of foreign and defense policy studies at the Washington D.C.-based American Enterprise Institute.

"Each of these individuals possesses unique and relevant experience, in and out of government, that I know will inform this important effort," Austin said in a Friday statement. "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."

Howard was both the first African-American and the first woman to hold the post of Vice Chief of Naval Operations.

lloyd austin confederate military assets renamed panel
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced his picks on Friday for a panel responsible for renaming military assets named after leaders in the Confederate Army. Greg Nash-Pool/Getty

The other 4 members of the panel were chosen by ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees from both the Republican and Democratic parties. Those panel members include retired General Thomas Bostick; Republican Georgia Representative Austin Scott; former chairman of the Tulsa, Oklahoma GOP party and Army veteran Jerry Buchanan; and Smithsonian Institution Secretary Lonnie Bunch III.

Bunch is the first African-American to hold the position of Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute.

Newsweek reached out to Schake's office and the Smithsonian Institution for comment.

Democrat Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced the renaming amendment to the 2021 NDAA, which would "remove all names, symbols, displays, monuments and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederacy and anyone who voluntarily served it from bases and other property of the U.S. military." The panel is expected to deliver a study into the renaming of the military assets while the Pentagon must administer the changes by January 2024.

Biden supported calls to strike the names of Confederate leaders in a June 2020 statement.

"The names affixed to our military installations must honor the diverse heritage of leadership and sacrifice in our country's history," Biden said.

Trump said in July 2020 that the renaming of military bases would not happen during his administration.

"The United States of America trained and deployed our heroes on these hallowed grounds, and won two world wars," Trump wrote in a since-deleted tweet. "Therefore, my administration will not even consider the renaming of these magnificent and fabled military installations."

Congress voted to override Trump's veto of the $740 billion act which set forth the budget for all the U.S. military spending for the fiscal year.