A high-ranking military leader, who advises the Oval Office on national defense matters, described a historical breakaway state as treacherous soon after regretting he joined the president for a photo.
Gen. Mark Milley used a House Armed Services Committee hearing to criticize the former Confederate States of America for being disloyal to the nation.
“The Confederacy [and] 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,” he told a House Armed Services Committee hearing on July 9.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman made the remarks in response to extreme “anarchist” protests, which spread across the nation since the death-in-custody of Minnesotan George Floyd on May 25.
He was concerned that U.S. Army bases, which were named in honor of past military leaders, might offend people belonging to races with a history of slavery.
“For those young soldiers that go on to a base, Fort [John] Hood or Fort [Braxton] Bragg or wherever named after a Confederate general, they can be reminded that that general fought for an institution of slavery that may have enslaved one of their ancestors,” he said. “Some have a different view on that. Some think it is heritage; others think it is hate.”
The general wants to use his power to form a special group to discuss whether to rename Army bases that might offend parts of the general population.
“I have recommended a commission of folks to take a hard look at the bases, statues, names, all of this stuff, to see if we can have a rational, mature discussion,” he said. “We have to improve the substance and promotions in the military but have also got to take a hard look at the symbology, symbols, things like the Confederate flags and statues and bases, and all that kind of stuff.”
He believes politics was the original motivation behind naming Army bases in honor of past military leaders and did not rule out using modern political views to rename them.
“Those were political decisions back in the 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, and World War One and Two times—100 years ago … they are going to be political decisions today.”
This appears to contradict Milley’s previous apolitical position that made him feel sorry for having his photo taken with President Donald Trump outside of St. John’s Episcopal Church because it allegedly sent a message to Americans about the military’s stance on the protests.
“That sparked a national debate about the role of the military in civil society, I should not have been there,” he said in a video shared on YouTube. “My presence in that moment, and in that environment, created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”
The Oval Office has ruled out renaming any military bases because they are part of the nation’s history.
“These monumental and very powerful bases have become part of a great American heritage, and a history of winning, victory, and freedom,” the president said on Twitter. “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.”