Armed Services Committees Leadership Announces Selections for Commission on Removing Confederate Symbols and Names from U.S. Military Assets

Today, the bipartisan leadership of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), and U.S. Representatives Adam Smith (D-WA) and Mike Rogers (R-AL), Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), announced their appointments, pursuant to Sec. 370 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021, to the Commission on the Naming of Items of the U.S. Department of Defense That Commemorate the Confederate States of America or Any Person Who Served Voluntarily With the Confederate States of America. 

The NDAA tasked the Commission with gathering input from local communities, developing an implementation plan for renaming assets and removing symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that commemorate the Confederacy, and submitting it to the House and Senate Armed Services Committee by October 2022.  Per the law, the Secretary of Defense must implement the Commission’s plan no later than January 1, 2024.

The eight-person Commission is composed of four appointments by the U.S. Secretary of Defense, two appointments by the Chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services Committee, and two appointments by the Ranking Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.

The appointments are as follows:

Chairman Reed selected: U.S. Army Lt. General (retired) Thomas P. Bostick served as the 53rd U.S. Army Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and is the first Black graduate of West Point (class of ’78) to serve in that prestigious post.  Prior to USACE, Lt. Gen. Bostick served as the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel.  Over his 38 years in the Army, he also held several battlefield commands, and also served as Commanding General for the Army’s Recruiting Command, where he initiated several key recruiting reforms.  He also taught at West Point as an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and served as a White House Fellow, where he worked as a special assistant to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.  Lt. Gen. Bostick holds a Master’s degree in both Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University (’85), a PhD in Systems Engineering from George Washington University (’16), and is also a graduate of the U.S. Army War College.

Chairman Smith selected: Mr. Lonnie G. Bunch III, the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian, where he oversees 19 museums, 21 libraries, the National Zoo, numerous research centers, and several education units and centers. Previously, Bunch was the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, where he started in 2005 with one staff member, no collections, no funding and no site for a museum. The museum has welcomed more than 6 million visitors since it opened in September 2016 and compiled a collection of 40,000 objects that are housed in the first “green building” on the National Mall. Bunch received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the American University in Washington, D.C. and has held numerous teaching positions at universities across the country, including American University in Washington, D.C., the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth and George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Ranking Member Inhofe selected: Jerry Buchanan is a private business owner and civic leader in Tulsa, Okla. Buchanan served the military as a Drill Sergeant and was stationed at Fort Dix, N.J. and Fort Polk, La. After his service, he graduated from Southeastern Oklahoma State University (SOSU), earned a master’s degree from the University of Honolulu and went on to create JC and Co., Inc., a property investment business in Oklahoma. He has been recognized with the 2010 Distinguished Alumni Award from SOSU and served as the president of its alumni association and foundation board, as well as other community leadership roles.

Ranking Member Rogers selected: Rep. Austin Scott represents Georgia’s Eighth Congressional District, which is home to Robins and Moody Air Force Bases, and has served on the House Armed Services Committee since first being elected to Congress in 2010. Rep. Scott’s work on the committee has primarily focused on bolstering readiness, enhancing depot maintenance, strengthening C2ISR capabilities, and combating transnational criminal organizations and the flow of illicit drugs and weapons. Rep. Scott currently serves on the Board of Visitors for the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation and will be the only Georgian to serve on a Congressional defense committee this Congress. Before coming to Congress, Rep. Scott owned and operated a small business for over twenty years and served in the Georgia General Assembly for fourteen years. Georgia is home to nine military installations, including two U.S. Army bases under consideration for renaming.

Under the law, the Commission shall:

        (1) assess the cost of renaming or removing names, symbols,

    displays, monuments, or paraphernalia that commemorate the

    Confederate States of America or any person who served voluntarily

    with the Confederate States of America;

        (2) develop procedures and criteria to assess whether an

    existing name, symbol, monument, display, or paraphernalia

    commemorates the Confederate States of America or person who served

    voluntarily with the Confederate States of America;

        (3) recommend procedures for renaming assets of the Department

    of Defense to prevent commemoration of the Confederate States of

    America or any person who served voluntarily with the Confederate

    States of America;

        (4) develop a plan to remove names, symbols, displays,

    monuments, or paraphernalia that commemorate the Confederate States

    of America or any person who served voluntarily with the

    Confederate States of America from assets of the Department of

    Defense, within the timeline established by this Act; and

        (5) include in the plan procedures and criteria for collecting

    and incorporating local sensitivities associated with naming or

    renaming of assets of the Department of Defense.

    (d) Membership.--The Commission shall be composed of eight members,

of whom--

        (1) four shall be appointed by the Secretary of Defense;

        (2) one shall be appointed by the Chairman of the Committee on

    Armed Services of the Senate;

        (3) one shall be appointed by the Ranking Member of the

    Committee on Armed Services of the Senate;

        (4) one shall be appointed by the Chairman of the Committee on

    Armed Services of the House of Representatives; and

        (5) one shall be appointed by the Ranking Member of the

    Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives.

    (e) Appointment.--Members of the Commission shall be appointed not

later than 45 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

    (f) Initial Meeting.--The Commission shall hold its initial meeting

on the date that is 60 days after the enactment of this Act.

    (g) Briefings and Reports.--Not later than October 1, 2021, the

Commission shall brief the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate

and House of Representatives detailing the progress of the requirements

under subsection (c). Not later than October 1, 2022, and not later

than 90 days before the implementation of the plan in subsection

(c)(4), the Commission shall present a briefing and written report

detailing the results of the requirements under subsection (c),

including:

        (1) A list of assets to be removed or renamed.

        (2) Costs associated with the removal or renaming of assets in

    subsection (g)(1).

        (3) Criteria and requirements used to nominate and rename

    assets in subsection (g)(1).

        (4) Methods of collecting and incorporating local sensitivities

    associated with the removal or renaming of assets in subsection

    (g)(1).

    (h) Funding.--

        (1) Authorization of appropriations.--There is authorized to be

    appropriated $2,000,000 to carry out this section.

        (2) Offset.--The amount authorized to be appropriated by the

    Act for fiscal year 2021 for Operations and Maintenance, Army, sub

    activity group 434 - other personnel support is hereby reduced by

    $2,000,000.

    (i) Assets Defined.--In this section, the term ``assets'' includes

any base, installation, street, building, facility, aircraft, ship,

plane, weapon, equipment, or any other property owned or controlled by

the Department of Defense.

    (j) Exemption for Grave Markers.--Shall not cover monuments but

shall exempt grave markers. Congress expects the commission to further 
define what constitutes a grave marker.