AP featured image
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

In Part I of this series, we discussed how General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was in error by characterizing Confederate Generals as “traitors.“ He did this in a Congressional hearing discussing the possible renaming of some military bases that bore names like, Lee, Hood, and other Confederate Generals. In addition to the “traitors” comment, General Milley also mentioned the possible effect on the morale of Black Soldiers having to live and work on an Army base named after a Confederate General.

I might concur, if these were new bases being conceived and constructed and we were going through the typical current day naming process as we would for a ship, a new base or barracks. Today, this process takes a number of factors into account and in some cases, tries to right a wrong. One such case is General Benjamin O. Davis Jr.

Davis Jr. entered West Point in 1932 as its only black cadet and spent the next four years “silenced,” an unofficial method of shunning where no one spoke with him except on official business. He was not even assigned a roommate. Davis managed to triumph over all of that, graduating and becoming a Tuskegee Airman, fighting in World War II, and ultimately becoming an Air Force General. Although General Davis passed on in 2002, in August 2017, West Point invited his family members to help cut the ribbon on newly constructed, General Benjamin O. Davis Jr. Cadet barracks — at long last, some atonement for an egregious wrong.

Back to General Milley’s assertion regarding morale and barracks. The installations, vessels, and other assets under discussion are already in long service and have been named for decades. What follows is clearly anecdotal and might arouse some ire in some quarters. With over 37 years in the green machine, my beloved Army, not once did I ever encounter any Soldier who gave one second of thought as to the name of the installation that he was assigned to, other than to disparage it for how bad the weather, was or how much the chow sucked. The name of the installation and its history just wasn’t a concern.

If you took a survey of all Soldiers, including Black Soldiers, asking them to list the top 5 concerns or issues they had with the United States Army, followed by asking them to tell you the history of their installation/ship/barracks, you would be hard-pressed to find more than a few who knew who the namesake of their base was, much less had “morale issues” because of it. General Milley has been away from Troops way too long. This is not a morale issue, unless he chooses to make it one — just like he did when he turned an ordinary walk with his Boss the President into a political issue.

Finally, let’s talk about what General Milley is supposed to be concentrating his efforts on. Let’s talk about what all this will cost in terms of studies and time and ultimately, quite a bit of expense and distraction from the main mission. There’s a lot more to this than changing the sign at the Main Gate and on the Commanding General’s letterhead. This will ultimately cost millions.

Given the large, public effort, its distraction from what the military is supposed to be doing, my question to General Milley, the National Command Authority, and to any politician supporting this silliness: How does any of this enhance readiness, lethality, morale, combat effectiveness, sustainability (military sense) cost-effectiveness, deterrence or any other metric by which we assess the US Military’s ability to kill people and break things in support of National Command Authority objectives?

Short answer, it doesn’t. Basically, we are being browbeaten into going along with spending a lot of money, time, and other resources. When we are done and no matter what the decision, we will have achieved a typical leftist result….nothing but form over substance and not one bit of improvement in race relations, much less the ability of my beloved Army to take on the Chinese.

Part I: Push to Rename Military Bases is Misguided (Part I)

Mike Ford
Mike Ford, a retired Infantry Officer, writes on Military, Foreign Affairs and occasionally dabbles in Political and Economic matters. 
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