Army officials have said they're willing to consider a proposal to change the names of bases named for confederate military leaders. But the president on Wednesday slammed the idea, saying he would not even consider it.
The 10 bases in question include some of the largest Army posts: Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Hood, Texas; and Fort Benning, Georgia, among others. While the fact that they honor generals who fought against the Union in the American Civil War has long been a point of controversy, a push to rename them has gained steam amid protests challenging systemic racism following the May 25 death of George Floyd in police custody.
On Monday, the Army acknowledged that service secretary Ryan McCarthy was eyeing the idea, with the stipulation that he wanted support from local leaders and Congress for the name change.
But in a series of tweets, President Donald Trump voiced his unequivocal opposition to the idea.
"These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom," he tweeted. "The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these Hallowed Grounds, and won two World Wars. Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations. Our history as the Greatest Nation in the World will not be tampered with. Respect our Military!"
Trump, who has a long history of telegraphing policy via Twitter and who famously intervened in military policy by surprising generals with a tweeted plan to bar transgender individuals from military service, has gone sideways with military leaders this month over whether to invoke the Insurrection Act and send active-duty troops into U.S. cities to help quell violent protests.
Trump warned he'd send in active troops to "dominate" in places where order was breaking down, while Defense Secretary Mark Esper ultimately said he opposed using active-duty forces to support law enforcement.
Ultimately, the roughly 1,600 active-duty troops dispatched from Bragg and Fort Drum, New York, to the Washington, D.C., area returned to their bases without entering the District.
Regarding base renaming, however, Trump may not get the final say on the matter. Renaming the bases is within the purview of the secretary of the Army, although Congress and public opinion have had a say in the past.
According to the Army's History Division, a 1928 move to rename Fort George G. Meade in Maryland to Fort Leonard Wood was stymied when Pennsylvania legislators threatened to withhold Army funding. Fort Leonard Wood eventually became the name of an Army post in Missouri.
-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.