FORT LIBERTY: BIG CHANGE FOR THE ARMY’S BIGGEST BASE
By Buddy Blouin
Fort Bragg as you know it will be no more now that the Pentagon has begun the process of renaming the institution. By the end of 2023, the Army’s biggest military base will don the name Fort Liberty thanks to a sweeping effort to get rid of names tied to the Confederacy and a variety of military-related bases, ships, roads, and signs. The new recommendation comes from the Naming Commission, an independent group Congress created to rename such items for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).
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When Does Fort Bragg Become Fort Liberty?Fort Liberty will be the new name of Fort Bragg by January 1, 2024, according to the Pentagon. This all comes from a plan set in motion in December 2022 but has ties going back even further. Overall, renaming Fort Bragg to Fort Liberty will cost $6.3 million and is only one of more than 1,000 items due for a rename. "I think we are confident, you know, each of the services has clear instructions in terms of what it is that they need to focus on, and where the secretary is confident that the services are and will continue to take that seriously," said Brig. Gen. Pat Ryde. The changes are long overdue for many that point to ties to the Confederacy not only as a tie to racism but to one of treason. Now, the U.S. military is making the switch, and there are several other areas getting changes within the next year.
Fort Bragg Name Change Isn’t the Only OneFrom ships to stationery, there are plenty of items that the U.S. Army is looking to change. Fort Bragg changing names is only a part of the puzzle as a transformation that will cost more than $62 million overall, according to recent estimates. These estimates, however, are expected to rise. This isn’t the first time that the DoD has faced such issues. In 2018, the U.S. changed its U.S. Pacific Command to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, which required changes to other areas, including signs and stationery. It was done in a short period of time, giving hope these measures can be implemented with ease. The aftermath of George Floyd’s murder on May 25, 2020, helped spark widespread protests across the world. It also began the momentum we're seeing today in a call for change to refrain from honoring Confederate troops within the U.S. military. Congress would go on to create the Naming Commission thanks to the passing of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which worked to record Confederate-linked names on military installations. As of September 2022, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin took the commission’s recommendations into consideration and would accept them. In total, nine Army bases, including Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Fort Benning, Georgia, were found to be named after Confederate officers. But other items, including the USS Chancellorsville and the USNS Maury, also have ties the Pentagon is looking at. The prestigious West Point and U.S. Naval Academy will need around $450,000 to replace Confederate-related items, and if things go according to plan, these changes will be widespread and considerably swift.
The Legacy of Fort Liberty Is Just BeginningIt’s difficult to say what all of this means for the future of the fort, but with a storied past, the new name is only part of the fort’s story. What we do know is that representation matters, as does inclusion. Not for the sake of doing so but by providing an even opportunity for people to make their way. The name change is only part of some of the more progressive measures throughout the military that have taken form in recent years. Others are focused on helping the military community receive mental health resources, assisting families, and creating laws aimed at helping those subjected to sexual violence while serving. Fort Liberty is here, and it may take some getting used to. However, it’s still helping forge some of the finest warriors on the planet and keep America free from its enemies.
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