Jul 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Joint Chiefs chairman condemns Confederate symbols

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley criticized Confederate symbols before the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday, and called the Civil War an "act of treason."

Why it matters: Milley said that minority service members — which he noted make up 43% of the U.S. military — may feel uncomfortable that Army bases are named for Confederate generals who "fought for an institution of slavery that may have enslaved one of their ancestors."

What he’s saying: "For those young soldiers that go on to a base of Fort Hood, Fort Bragg, whatever, named after a Confederate general, they can be reminded that that general fought for an institution of slavery."

  • "I had a staff sergeant when I was a young officer who actually told me that at Fort Bragg. He said he went to work every day on a base that represented a guy who enslaved his grandparents."
  • "The Confederacy, 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 U.S. Constitution, and those officers turned their back on their oath."
  • "I personally think that the original decisions to name those bases after Confederate generals, the 10 bases you're talking about in the Army, those were political decisions back in the 1910s and 1920s and 1930s and World War I, World War II time frame, 100 years ago. And they're going to be political decisions today."
  • Milley said he has recommended a commission to reconsider the names of military bases named after Confederate generals.

The other side: President Trump in June criticized congressional efforts to change the names of the military installations, saying he will "not even consider" renaming bases.

  • "Our history as the Greatest Nation in the World will not be tampered with. Respect our Military!" Trump said.

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